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Friday, May 25, 2012

Price Check in Aisle Ivy

My dad always wears the Princeton baseball cap that I gave him freshman week, right when I started school. Whenever people ask about the tattered, sweat and bleach stained thing, he has the same response;“I paid to wear this hat”. It is probably the most expensive piece of clothing he owns! When considering a student’s four year college experience and the financial commitment necessary for a degree, images of a second mortgage may cause uneasiness in every parent. The Ivy League especially is preconceived to mean an even larger price tag. I am not here to take sides on how much an Ivy education should be worth. I do however know that financing it will work if you want it to!

A scholarshipis money that a university may offer a student based on their performance. This may be merit-based in academics, or for another arena, such as sports or the arts. In the world of athletics and the arts, Division 1 and 2 schools may offer scholarships. The only exception is the Ivy League. No, the Ivy League does not offer athletic scholarships. Yes, I am sure. Yes, the person who told you someone got a full athletic scholarship to an Ivy is wrong.
If the Ivy League were allowed to offer any type of performance based scholarship, imagine the difficulty in finding which students would deserve money based on sports or their academics! Every year, many perfect 2400 SAT scores do not get into these top schools. With acceptance rates under 10%, every student admitted might be deserving of some type of performance-based scholarship elsewhere, but rest assured, these schools will fill their seats without any scholarship offers.
That does not mean that acceptance to an Ivy immediately means giving up your retirement fund! The Ivy League, given huge endowments to work with, wants to ensure that once a student is admitted to their institution it becomes a manageable expense. All 8 schools have a need-blindadmission process to promote low-income students to apply, without concerns of the expenses. Additionally, all the aid available is used on a need basis. Need in Ivy terms may not seem “needy” to our preconceived notions. Across the board, all the Ivies offer some type of need-based aid to 50-60% of their students. Princeton has a no loans policy, allowing all students to graduate debt-free [FinAid]. In 2008, Dartmouth eliminated tuition for students from families with incomes of under $75,000 [Dartmouth Public Affairs]. Harvard and Yale have incremental expectations of how much a student should pay, from 0 to 10 percent, with family earnings of $60,000 to $120,000 a year [Fitzsimmonsand Yale Public Affairs].

While the Ivies may be prohibited from offering talent based awards, they certainly ensure the cost of tuition will be manageable; given it is a worthwhile endeavor for the student. Students are free to win merit based scholarships from outside institutions and organizations. Sure, my middle class parents were uneasy at first, but slowly we saw as a family how this worthwhile investment could become manageable. Overall, my first year of tuition was cut in half with a diligent search for a variety of national and state scholarships. Additionally, combining a part-time job, my parents’ contributions, and a very accommodating aid package from Princeton, I am looking forward to law school with no debt!
Sure, it can be a blow to feel desired elsewhere and be offered nothing but admission to the Ivies. Yet, long-term, I felt Princeton offered me the opportunity to reach my potential athletically, academically, and personally. To me, it seemed like an opportunity many are not granted and I would be foolish to pass up. If it’s worth it, the investment works out – I promise!

1 comment:

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