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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Low-income achievers can’t afford college

Zachary Wright loves College Signing Day, but hates to see low-income achievers locked out of college by high costs, he writes on Education Post.

As a teacher at Mastery Charter School Shoemaker in Philadelphia, he’s helped students prepare for college.

Work hard, we tell them. Do your homework. Get good grades. Be respectful. Stay out of trouble. Show grit. Take responsibility for your actions. Do these things, and you can go to college, get a good job, and help move your family up a rung on America’s social ladder.

But it’s a lie, Wright has come to believe.

Pennsylvania doesn’t offer scholarships for achievers who want to attend in-state public colleges and universities. Instead, low-income families are asked to pay out-of-pocket costs they can’t possibly afford, he writes.

At financial-fit meetings in the spring, students come with a family member and “financial aid award letters that specify college costs, offered loans and awarded scholarships. With a teacher, students input this data into a spreadsheet that helps calculate total out-of-pocket costs.”

A common student’s data for an in-state public college might look like the following:

$11,000. $11,00 for a student whose family’s EFC (Estimated Family Contribution) on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application was $0. $11,000 for a lifelong-resident of Pennsylvania with a GPA of over 3.0.

A few win full scholarships. Some try to raise the money. Others will go to a Philadelphia community college with a 10 percent graduation rate. For some, their education will end at high school.

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