Saturday, May 28, 2016: College financial barriers, doctors and Medicaid, yes to ranked-choice voting

Colleges failing students

As a college counselor, I have advocated for improvements in the college enrollment and retention rates for years. The May 23 BDN editorial, of course, moved me to write.

Here is a current example of the daunting financial barrier faced by Maine students and a major contributor to not finishing. B., a first-time collegegoer, comes from a family with no resources, and she received a “0” estimated family contribution on her federal financial aid report. She has no job and no savings, and this is what her financial aid package looked like from a Maine state college: $8,675 in grants and $9,500 in loans, of which $6,000 was unsubsidized. Unsubsidized means the loan starts accumulating interest all the way through the four to six years of college the student will typically take to graduate, if they do.

At $9,500 per year, the math is easy: $38,000 for four years, $57,000 for six years plus substantial interest (tuition increases, etc., not included). Factor in living expenses, travel, vacations and a lack of financial management skills, and what you get is potential failure to survive in college.

When I met with the financial aid director and pointed out the

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