So, the question is whether or not colleges like Harvard would give students more financial aid IF federal and state governments “capped their financial aid to students at the price for attending an in-state flagship university.” Well, in order to answer this, I had to look up “flagship university” because I had no idea what that meant. If you already knew what that meant, don’t laugh at me. Basically, a flagship university is “the most prominent public university of [a] state. It is usually the first public university that was established in the state and receives the most state support,” so the University of Oklahoma would be Oklahoma’s flagship university (What Is a Flagship University?). Honestly, I have no idea if schools like Harvard would cover the difference. Maybe they would want to maintain their selectivity, so by not helping more students with aid, they would be even more elite and coveted. Personally, I value the educational environment (the diversity and quality of students) over the way a university is perceived by the masses, so I would help out students, but I cannot speak for Harvard. The issue of financial aid extends pretty far, and it is complex. Should we have more rules for who can receive aid based on more strict criteria? Should a student’s major dictate the amount of monetary help they receive?
The second question prompts the idea of locking students into a major by determining their allotted financial aid based on their choices in majors. So, if someone picked petroleum engineering, his aid would be through the roof, but consequently, he would be “locked in,” and should he discover a predilection for poetry, well… he would be *ahem* S.O.L. So, my opinion on this is pretty obvious. No. Students’ aid should not be determined by their majors, simply because this is breeding grounds for deep dissatisfaction. I mean, at some point, students would realize which majors afforded them the most aid, and they’d dive into those areas of study whether or not they had even the slightest interest in them. With this decision “locked in,” those who truly could not connect to their field of study would probably become stressed and discontent, and then depressed. Are students allowed to still change majors in this system? I’ll assume that they can. Even with this possibility, many students would likely push themselves through something that they hated simply for the financial aid. I know plenty of people who are doing this for the monetary return from their starting job salaries (think most engineering majors). Basically, I’m incredibly bitter about all of this because paying for college is stressful. I know a few people who dropped out of OU because they could no longer afford it or because their grades had declined while they were trying to work full-time and complete school. Why do we have to tap dance, carve an intricate bust from marble, and work ourselves to exhaustion just to earn a degree that is now being called “the new highschool diploma”? Okay, I’m probably getting off topic and into the rant side of things. I’ll calm down.
So, like I said, I don’t think that Harvard would “cover the difference” if financial aid was capped, but I won’t know for sure until this situation unfolds (if it ever does). Further, I do not think that aid should be based on a student’s choice of major. I can see the hopeful benefit in this, by trying to keep students headed down their chosen paths to ensure graduation and (hopefully) future success and stability, but I see too many problems, namely with student dissatisfaction and feeling trapped in something that they do not enjoy. For now, it seems like financial aid is working relatively cohesively? I don’t know enough to be sure on this either, but I haven’t heard too many complaints.
“What Is a Flagship University?” Do It Yourself College Rankings. N.p., 29 May 2012. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.