Low-income students have enough financial worries

Design: Holden Kilbane

There is no doubt that college is expensive. According to the Education Data Initiative, approximately 43.4 million Americans owe $1.6 trillion in student debt. USC, in particular, ranks as the most expensive school in California for the 2021-22 school year, according to CollegeCalc. As a low-income student attending such an immensely wealthy school, I sometimes find the apparent privilege and wealth on campus distressing.

Our university’s seemingly frivolous spending, like the recent $110 million contract with new head football coach Lincoln Riley, can make USC seem unsupportive of low-income students. It seems a bit unethical that USC provided Riley with a private jet and a $6 million home in Los Angeles while underprivileged students struggle to afford their books and school supplies. It’s clear that USC has the funds to better support low-income students, and in the severe financial struggle that has followed the pandemic, it’s high time the University started doing just that.

In addition to Cal grants and federal resources such as the FAFSA, USC helps students fund their tuition through scholarships, co-op work, and need-based aid based on your financial circumstances. family. However, for other expenses such as school supplies and living expenses, such as food, students have few resources. The most accessible resource for this type of assistance is the Office of Basic Student Needs, but the process of obtaining funds is unnecessarily complicated, with requests being assessed on a case-by-case basis.

It’s just not enough. The restrictive requirements limiting the scholarship to “students who experience sudden financial hardship due to unforeseen circumstances” – as stated on the Bureau’s website – make it inaccessible for many students who are struggling with constant financial difficulties and therefore have a permanent need for financial assistance. , in which a “single funding opportunity” will not suffice. Getting the help one needs to support their college education shouldn’t be difficult, especially not from a school like USC, which boasts of an immense image of wealth.

As Washington Post editor Karen Weese explained, the number one reason low-income students drop out is due to financial distress, which tends to come from one minor detail or an abundance of minor details to which middle-class students wouldn’t have to think. twice, like not being able to afford transportation, food, or school supplies. Scholarships and financial aid for tuition fees serve a great purpose and make the idea of ​​higher education accessible to disadvantaged students. However, there are many more hidden expenses that come with a college education that scholarships and financial aid don’t cover. It is often these small expenses that add up to make college unaffordable.

Colleges can alleviate all of these “minor” expenses if they just provide school supplies, such as laptops and textbooks, which can be very expensive but are a college necessity. While these expenses may be minor for wealthy universities such as USC, for low-income students these expenses could make or break their college careers.

According to a 2020 Daily Trojan article, students spend an average of $20,000 on school supplies, housing, and transportation on top of their tuition. While some USC students can afford to spend $20,000 on top of tuition, most students cannot.

USC is proud of its Accessibility Initiative, an initiative that funds full tuition for students whose families earn $80,000 or less, regardless of home equity. Although this seems like an extremely generous gesture, it still leaves students with a large sum of money to cover housing costs, meal plans, and several other burdensome expenses. If USC is to foster a diverse community of students, it must choose to invest in the needs of its most vulnerable students rather than the superficial desires to maintain its lavish appearances. USC says its first priority is the education of its students, but they have yet to prove it.