Editorial: Making financial aid a priority will improve campus diversity

April 8, 2009

For high school seniors, available financial aid packages have long served as important precursors for making up one’s mind about where to attend college. At Virginia Tech, potential students can expect to receive their financial aid offering a few days after they’ve received their acceptance notifications.

It is very important for Tech to stay competitive with other state colleges when it comes to distributing financial aid. The last thing we would ever want would be to lose qualified applicants to other schools because we failed to put our financial aid offering out there fast enough.

For many students, a hefty financial aid package can make a huge difference. While it is understandable that aid announcements cannot released until an admissions decision has been made on the individual student, it is important for the two to coincide as much as possible. As long as Tech puts the financial aid offering out there early enough, students won’t choose other schools based on their economic situations, but rather on academic merit and other important conditions.

Within the past couple weeks there has been a lot of discussion about the recently imposed diversity requirements for faculty. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has combated these requirements, arguing that making commitment to diversity an ideological requirement for faculty members is uncalled for. When such a huge push for diversity is being made on our campus, it’s important to primarily analyze our current system on the admissions level, rather than focus on faculty influence and diversity initiatives.

Students from less affluent backgrounds rely a lot more on financial aid to help carry them through school. Especially during such trying economic times, more students than ever before are expecting financial aid to be an important factor in enrollment decisions.

If Tech truly wants to become a more diverse campus, these are the people we should be recruiting. These are the people who we should be offering a financially accessible education.

When it comes to offering financial aid, Tech should aim to be ahead of other state schools. The last thing we’d ever want would be to lose qualified applicants to other schools whose financial aid packages come through sooner.

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