Flagler College one step ahead of financial aid discussion

By Danielle Ruckert | gargoyle@flagler.edu

As college graduation rates continue to decline, Flagler College numbers remain above the national average.

More financial aid is needed to revive the declining statistics of college graduation, according to The American Dream 2.0, a coalition of the nation’s six leading higher-education associations.

Average private school tuition was $28,946 for the 2012-2013 school year. Flagler’s tuition for the same year is $15,340, with each student attending Flagler College automatically receiving over $10,000 in aid. According to Director of Financial Aid, Christopher D. Haffner,this figure is due to tuition at Flagler College being more transparent.

At many universities, high quantities of incoming freshman receive merit based scholarships. Students who do not acquire the scholarships pay a higher average tuition in order to compensate for the college’s investment in their incoming student body. Flagler College’s decision to not partake in this practice, by typically not giving out freshman merit-based scholarships, is what helps to keep the tuition low and make the college more financially accessible.

“I think that student loans are the next bubble to break in our economy, which puts so many people at a disadvantage since a college education is necessary for a career,” says Samantha Busiccha, Flagler College senior. “As a student who pays for school mainly on financial aid and student loans, I think the more help a college is willing to give, the better.”

The American Dream 2.0 is a coalition of college and foundation presidents, civil rights leaders, state policymakers, college access advocates, and business leaders. In a report, released in January, they highlight the low levels of college completion, with suggestions including: making the financial aid system simpler and more transparent, embracing innovations that serve all students and urging institutions, states and students alike to share responsibility for producing more graduates without compromising access and affordability. In this plan, Flagler College seems to be one step ahead of the game.

Financial aid is such an important topic to the American Dream 2.0 because they believe it correlates directly with graduation rates in the United States. When looking at a national average over the course of a four-year enrollment, 40% of American students actually graduate in this time period. The statistic rises to 54% when looking at a six-year enrollment. If the rising cost of an education is to blame for these numbers, the value of the education is something to consider.

“You can’t just sit still as a college,” says Haffner. “A good school, in order to stay progressive and productive and produce students ready to enter the workforce at high levels, we have to keep up [with the times] and keep retraining and educating the professors.”

When it comes to the reason behind the rising cost of college, the pace at which college tuition is growing remains current with the pace at which the world today is changing.

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