Stanford ahead in the financial aid game

Martha Pietruszewski

Unless youâÄôre an athlete on a full scholarship to the University of Minnesota, chances are you have to deal with loans, grants and all sorts of financial aid issues. Getting into college takes 13 years of hard work, and paying for it is something youâÄôll be doing long after you leave. However, Stanford University recently made it a little bit easier. ItâÄôs making tuition free for families earning less than $125,000 year. This is a bold move that could work well for Stanford, but it will have a hard time working for other colleges. Stanford is a private educational institution. Established in 1891, it has more than $21.4 billion in endowment. ThereâÄôs no doubt that Stanford has the resources to implement its new policy âÄî which is actually an upgrade from the $100,000 limit that was already in place. Other universities cannot hope to compete with Stanford. But what they can do is start trying to make college cheaper. Now, I understand that there are several things that go into the pricetag of tuition. However, I believe that there are ways to reduce the cost of attendance. President Barack Obama is trying to do this with his âÄúAmericaâÄôs College Promise.âÄù Making all four years of undergraduate college free would be highly improbable and foolish to even consider. But what about offering two years for the price of one? Doing this would eliminate the burden of paying off loans for all four years, and it is much more practical than trying to go to school free of charge for all four years. There are other options as well âÄî maybe schools could offer two years of room and board for the price of one. Truthfully, anything at all to help lower the cost of higher education is a good thing. Colleges could also benefit from the simplicity of pursuing policies like StanfordâÄôs. Eliminating rules that prevent students from getting the money they need is the obvious choice for reform. College should be accessible for everyone, no matter how much money they or their parents make. This would also erase a lot of the frustration that current students have with the financial aid policies of their universities. Money sucks, but it definitely doesnâÄôt have to. By reducing the focus on financial aid, we can return our attention to what college is truly about: education. I feel like I would be learning a lot more if I didnâÄôt hold two part-time jobs and write these columns on the side. Sometimes, itâÄôs hard to get my schoolwork done on time. We are all here to advance our knowledge of something, whether thatâÄôs how much we can drink at one party or how to write the next great American novel. Focusing on education is necessary if weâÄôre going to revamp the education system to focus on the process of learning rather than the end goal of a degree. I understand that money makes the world go round. ThatâÄôs how itâÄôs always been, and thatâÄôs probably how it always will be. But little changes along the way can make college a more valuable experience. Or maybe itâÄôs not too late to become an athlete.