by Julie Johnson
to a report compiled by the Ohio state branch of the Public Interest
Research Groups (PIRG) 2002 Higher Education Project (HEP),
todays average student in higher educational institutions
receives less aid and is required to work more hours than students
in the past. Largely caused by redistributions of the financial
aid burden from the federal level to the state and institutional
level, the growing costs and resulting debt incurred while attending
post-secondary educational institutions poses a threat to the academic
achievements and experiences of students.
As the costs of education for students have risen, financial aid
has not risen proportionally. As reported by the HEP, the
average grant award per student, as a percentage of average tuition
and fees at a typical public four-year institution, has dropped
by nearly one-third since 1982.
Recent federal higher education policies have placed more of the
burden of financial aid on individual institutions. Under Bushs
2003 education budget, the Leveraging Educational Assets program,
a need-based financial aid program, will be eliminated. This program
is a partnership between state governments and the federal government.
Every dollar put towards educational grants by the states is matched
by the federal government. Eliminating this program shifts the burden
to state level governments and individual institutions. In addition
to affecting mainly lower income students, because 60 percent of
the recipients of such grants come from households with incomes
under $20,000, the elimination of the Leveraging and the decreasing
funding for other aid programs such as the Pell Grant Program sends
a message that need-based grant aid isnt a priority to the
Ellynne Bannon, Ohio PIRG Higher Education Advocate and co-author
of the 2002 Project, emphasizes the importance of re-evaluating
the importance of making a higher education not only more accessible,
but also higher priority in students lives.
College is a time when students engage in a broad set of educational
opportunities ranging from academics to civic engagement and community
service. However, all too often the very education students are
working to pay for is being compromised by the number of hours that
they spend on the job, Bannon said.
According to the report, students who work more than 25 hours a
week are more than twice as likely to say that working negatively
impacts their academic performance and overall academic experience;
46 percent reported that their grades suffered; 62 percent said
that working limited their class schedules; and 45 percent said
working limited their course choices.
Statistics compiled from the National Postsecondary Student Aid
Survey (NPSAS), as reported in the State PIRGs Higher Education