Students’ academic merit, not tuition cost, should drive college choice


by Aaron Reiss
Eagle Editorial Board

One of my best friends recently got into a top-tier university. I could not be happier for him.

His dad went there, he has grown up rooting for the school’s sports teams since he was in diapers and it is his first choice for college.

It sounds simple: he will accept the University’s offer of admission and begin counting down the days until he moves into his dorm. If only it were that easy.

Despite working hard in high school for four years, my friend will not know if he can attend the school of his dreams until April, when decisions on financial aid are made.

Until then, his parents are selling their home and downsizing to a condo, partially in an effort to pay for his top choice school’s tuition.

Hearing this brought me to one thought: it is not worth it.

The worrisome anticipation for the University’s April financial aid decisions to approach; the selling of his home; the idea that someone who has wanted nothing other than to attend a school for his whole life may not be able to not because of merit, but because of finances.

It all isn’t worth it.

College costs too much.

I am not critiquing my friend and his parents for choosing to sell their home. I know how badly my friend wants to attend the school, and only he can determine how important it is for him to go there instead of the other schools he’s been offered admission to.

What I think is ridiculous, frustrating and stupid is the fact that anyone should need to sell their home or wait in agony for a financial aid decision in order to determine whether or not they can attend the school of their dreams.

Many top universities in the country – which tend to be smaller because of more selective admissions – have endowments that exceed five billion dollars.

One way or another, colleges, especially private ones, must find a way to be affordable.

If a student is qualified to attend a school, finances should not play a role.

This is idealistic, yes; our nation and its higher education system will never be void of financial issues.

But I do not think I should have to hear as many students as I do say that finances, not intellect and four years of hard work in high school, will decide where they go to college.

I learn as much from my peers as I do from my teachers.

If some students are unable to attend a university because of costs, it not only hurts those students, but the school community as a whole, whose students would benefit from being in a classroom with those people.

The point of higher education is to expand the mind of students, to have them be enlightened not only in the classroom but through interactions they have with different people on campus who crave knowledge as much as they do.

There should not be a financial cap on who’s allowed to experience this.