As times get tighter economically-wise the cost for school also becomes harder. Paying for college is a heavy price felt by all, but a recent study revealed Latinos students seem to feel it more. Unable to pay out of pocket, some students rely on various financial aid programs to help cover a portion of the costs however said programs made be the roadblock for some Latinos.
According to a report released by Excelenica in Education—an organization that aims to help Latino students attain a higher education—an estimated 21% of Latinos received an associate degree or higher in 2012. In the same year, an estimated 41% of non-Latinos obtained an associate degree or higher.
One reason why the estimation appears lower, according to the report, is due to many Latinos being first-generation college students. The current financial aid system in the United States is difficult to navigate through therefore Latino students may not be receiving their full awards but in fact lower financial aid awards.
A sophomore at Boston University’s College of General Studies, Jocelyn Toll describes her issue with the system. Originally from Costa Rica, Toll said how her family did not apply for FAFSA when she was applying because of an experience with her brother who did not receive any aid.
“You just apply to FAFSA and hope for the best,” said Toll. “I don’t really understand what it is they are looking for.”
A sociology professor at Boston University, Nazli Kibria, notes the financial aid system should be updated to help first-generation college students.
“They [Latinos] are one of the fastest growing groups in the U.S,” said Kibria, drawing attention to the rising community. “There is a higher percentage of Latino students and there will be in the future, so I think in order to build a college-educated workforce would be a critical step.”
Along with teaching, Kibria served on a minority student advisory group to Boston University and believes there should be a focus in teaching Latinos (and other students) about financial aid before they begin applying to college.
One of the largest national student aid providers, FAFSA (part of the Federal Student Aid Program) gives aid to students in the form of federal grants, loans and work-study. However, due to a confusing application system some students are not awarded the right amount or amount at all.
Unable to afford to pay for school, some students are forced to turn down acceptance to the schools they worked hard to get into. First-generation college students may have odds stacked-up against them in graduating, but they can endure. They can endure with some help.
With federal programs created to help such students pay for school failing they must try and overcome that roadblock. A financial aid program that is navigable would not just ease the burden of the application process, but it will insure these students remain in school.
A new system will secure the bright future that awaits this country by preparing our future leaders now.