Financial aid is insufficient for some low-income students – The Scarlet and Black

Of the barriers to entry for students pursuing higher education, tuition fees can be the most daunting. For some low-income students, Grinnell College’s steady increase in tuition to $60,988 without room and board has left them struggling to balance the cost and program burden simultaneously. This semester, several students have faced financial aid issues and may be forced to leave Grinnell College as a result.

Natalia Ramirez-Jimenez `24, an international student from Mexico, and her family have recently experienced financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, the financial assistance offered to him by the College was no longer sufficient to pay for his studies.

“My parents don’t have the money left to pay for the next semester, so if I don’t get their financial aid, I’ll be forced to drop out and not finish my major after two years,” Ramirez-Jimenez said. .

Natalia Ramirez-Jimenez `24 appealed to increase her financial aid package twice, but both appeals were denied by the Office of Financial Aid. Photo by Isabelle Torrence.

The Financial Aid Office calculates a student’s “demonstrated financial need” using federal and institutional formulas that take into account self-reported information on the financial aid application. Grinnell College then matches each student’s demonstrated need using a combination of merit-based scholarships, need-based grants, and work-study opportunities. Scholarships remain constant from year to year, unless there is a substantial change in your family’s financial situation, with minor annual increases offered to help families cope with increased tuition costs .

Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Brad Lindberg has worked in Grinnell’s financial aid process for nine years and directly with international students on their financial aid.

“Funding a Grinnell education is a three-way partnership between parent, student and College,” Lindberg said. “The methodology employed by the [College Scholarship Service] The profile is complex, but at its core it measures each family’s need for help through a review of their income, assets and unique family circumstances which may impact their ability to pay for their education. academics.

The International Student Financial Aid Program specifically provides a renewed aid package each year, and the International Aid Scholarships offered at the time of admission are rarely subject to change or approval for secondary modification of scholarship offers .

“Each year, we award approximately $60 million in student financial aid. While each circumstance is unique, we do our best to provide the most generous financial assistance offer to each family while maintaining fairness in every application,” Lindberg said.

My parents don’t have any more money to pay for the next semester, so if I don’t receive their financial aid, I will be forced to drop out. – Natalia Ramirez-Jimenez `24

Students can submit appeals if they believe their demonstrated need is inaccurately calculated. Complaints have been raised that the financial aid office assumes too much of the potential contribution from families, leading to incidental problems and confusion when circumstances change.

“If a family’s financial situation has changed significantly since they applied for financial assistance, or if their family has circumstances that were not presented in the initial application for assistance, they may request a reconsideration of your help,” Lindberg said. “Examples of special circumstances include unemployment or pay cuts that are routine or unusually high expenses.”

However, Ramirez-Jimenez and his family have appealed for more help, twice. After two separate requests, one in the fall and another in the spring, nothing had changed with her aid program.

“While international and domestic financial aid programs are based on the same principles, they are also uniquely different from each other,” Lindberg said. “Due to immigration and visa regulatory requirements, international students only apply for incoming first-year aid. Changes to international scholarships are rare and only occur in a few cases each year. Conversely, domestic students must reapply for financial aid each year.

Yoel Hooper-Antunez `24 has seen significant increases in his expected contribution each semester since fall 2021. Photo by Isabel Torrence.

Similar financial aid issues also recently presented themselves to another low-income student S&B spoke to. Yoel Hooper-Antunez `24, a domestic student from California, has continued to have significant increases in his expected contribution each semester since the fall of 2021, which has jeopardized his continued attendance at Grinnell.

“I think the expected amount I had to pay was a very reasonable amount, but every year it is gradually increasing.” Hooper-Antunez said. “I used to have outside scholarships, but now that the amount I’m supposed to contribute has doubled every year, I’m approaching a point where I don’t know if I can really afford to go to school. university here.”

I think the expected amount I had to pay was a very reasonable amount, but each year it gradually increased. – Yoel Hooper – Antunez `24