College students face financial hardship during pandemic – The Blue Banner
UNC Asheville students from various economic backgrounds say they are struggling to survive COVID-19 and are struggling with obstacles to attend college.
“The student should be encouraged to explore the impact and application of state and federal COVID-19 relief. Loans should never be used as the primary tool for financing education. While part of the loan is a reasonable expectation and an investment in education, students and their families should not over-commit, ”said Kortni Campbell, vice chancellor of the admissions and aid department. financial. “Students should explore all funding options, interact with the net price calculator, and connect with a financial aid advisor while navigating the financial aid process. UNCA and other colleges / universities are committed to working with students and their families to understand what is best educationally and financially.
Campbell said there is a wide range of programs available to help students financially.
“Some students are more privileged than others because they pursue higher education and take many paths to access education. We hope that students will make thoughtful decisions and commitments when considering and pursuing their educational options. UNCA is committed to working as closely as possible with our students through counseling, financial aid and scholarship resources to make college education possible, ”said Campbell.
Campbell said colleges should work with prospective students and the community to educate them about financial opportunities and higher education funding.
“It’s one of many economic inequalities, add housing, health care and food, for far too many people around the world. I think we need to work better with the students to plan the university. It may not be practical right out of high school, but a year of work and savings paves the way for much smoother enrollment and schooling, ”said Jackie McHargue, Dean of Students at the A CA. “We have implemented a model of direct transition from high school to college and we need to reassess whether this is what serves students best. Many countries are planning a gap year for work and travel and we haven’t done so yet. “
McHargue said some people turn to community colleges for tuition, even though they are great options for some people.
“Time management can be so difficult for working students, especially off campus. Students often tell me that supervisors change schedules, add shifts, and ignore time off requests. This makes their juggling between work and school even more difficult. You have to work more hours to cover more expenses, so you do it, and then a bill adds up, so more hours at work and less at school. You either get a lower grade or fail, so you have to take it back, which costs more. Now you have to work more. I wish the students didn’t have to juggle so much of this, ”McHargue said.
She said there should be better opportunities for students to learn budgeting and financial planning.
“The loans are part of the aid program. Until the whole pattern changes, we’re stuck with them. I think helping students not to withdraw more than they need, saving repayments where possible, and consolidating and refinancing when rates go down are all part of the process we need to educate students, ” McHargue said.
McHargue said the biggest financial gap the UNCA should correct for students is a completion scholarship for students who are about to graduate and need more financial help for the push. final.
“The four-year universities have made it such a barrier to pay them that it’s inherently a problem. It’s almost become a contract bondage, where you have to go to college to work, but you have to pay for college somehow, and it is not possible to work on time. full, be a full-time student and pay tuition fees. These numbers just don’t add up, ”said Edward Watkins, a 32-year-old UNCA junior.
Watkins, who was in the military for five years, said he was using his veteran’s education benefits to attend college. He said that even though his university is paid, he still has financial difficulties.
“I couldn’t afford not to work. The GI Bill is the only reason I can go to school. I couldn’t afford the tuition and couldn’t afford to live without it. The way the GI Bill exists now is not very helpful. I had a job before, so I had savings, but if you relied on the GI Bill for rent, you have two full months when you don’t get your basic housing allowance, ”Watkins said, a full-time student. . “Do you want me to spend two full months, including Christmas, with no money?” “
The VA does not pay veteran students between semesters so that veterans’ benefits are not exhausted before graduation.
“I spent five years in the military, which is way beyond what most people would do to go to school, but these people have to work a lot longer to pay off their student loans. So the way I see it is that I bundled the work up ahead of time, ”Watkins said.
Watkins said he sacrificed a large part of his body while in the military and can feel the consequences every day.
“I have arthritis and I’m only 32 years old. I had to do a lot of physical things to win the GI Bill, and I have a lot of injuries because of it, ”Watkins said.
Watkins said he is not currently receiving VA medical care and is concerned about the school’s health insurance.
“The University of North Carolina health care system is inadequate. You don’t have good dental care and students are being billed these astronomical sums and not getting a lot of medical value, ”he said.
Watkins said he grew up in an upper-middle-class family and his parents could have paid for his college education. He decided to join the military so his family could keep the money instead.
“People are embarrassed by the cost of entering a four-year school, especially if you are not well off and have no choice. You must swallow any loan that is offered to you. It’s not fair that 18-year-olds don’t have the financial literacy to make decisions that turn into $ 60,000 or $ 70,000, ”Watkins said.
The college student said he is worried about how other students may pay for school, as most students work in the service industry, which is limited due to COVID-19.
“It’s a lot to balance a part-time job, finances and a full-time school schedule. The cost of living in Asheville is incredibly high and the wages are significantly lower than they should be. Trying to do things like pay school fees is a lot harder when I’m trying to pay my rent and my bills, ”said Tori Rigsby, 23, a junior at UNCA.
The UNCA student said he faces financial hardship that some students might not face.
“I was brought up in the lower middle class; I grew up in the countryside just outside Asheville. I grew up in a double width trailer, but it was nice. Our family was not rich at all. Both of my parents were non-graduate blue collar workers who worked their entire lives, ”Rigsby said.
Rigsby said he graduated from a local high school in Buncombe County and now attends UNCA.
“I have noticed that most of the kids who entered college took specialization or advanced placement courses, but of course that goes locally to Clyde A. Erwin High School. Most of the kids were in the lower or middle class and you had to have perfect grades for you to have a chance to go to college. The school only encouraged a select few to go to college, only students they thought had a chance, which is the grim reality of most local high schools in the area. I had to take honors and advanced placement courses and do as many extracurricular activities as possible to look good for college, ”Rigsby said.
The full-time student works part-time for the security service at Asheville City School. Rigsby said it was a lot harder for him to be in school than for someone who doesn’t have to work.
“I am not receiving financial aid and the school did not ask me to be able to pay for my classes, so working is a necessity. I work to live and pay for my studies. I want to be in school, but I also have to live, you know, ”Rigsby said.