Poor, impoverished students

College students in Georgia are starting to whine. I have a little sympathy for them, but not too much. The governor released a plan this morning to save the Hope Scholarship. That is a lottery-funded program that has provided full college scholarships at state schools for students who graduate from high school with a 3.0 GPA and maintain it in college. Unfortunately, lottery sales are not keeping up with Hope demand and something has got to give. The governor’s plan caps most Hope Scholarships at 90% of current tuition levels with no automatic increases as tuition goes up at state schools.

I am sympathetic to the students and their parents, but not totally. I think that having someone pay for 90% of your college tuition is a really good deal. At one typical medium-range Georgia public university, that unpaid 10% comes to just under $44/month (two semesters’ tuition and fees, spread over 12 months). I strongly suspect that many of those students spend more than that on beer.

There is something to be said for requiring the student to pay at least a portion of the cost of their education. They may place more value on it. I had a boss once that held to that exact theory. He would reimburse employees for outside courses and training to improve themselves, but never the entire bill. He believed that if someone wasn’t willing to foot even a small part of the bill for a course, it would not be something they would take seriously. I think he was right.

Another issue is how the level of affluence of many of today’s college students has increased since I was a poor, impoverished (I really was!) student back in the dark ages of the 1970s. Before my current job, I worked at a state university, and got to see the way many of today’s college students “survive.” It always amazed me when I volunteered to help out on “move-in day,” and saw how many students arrived equipped with their own car, laptop computer, stereo, smart phone, flat screen TV, video game system, etc.

In Georgia, the joke has been the biggest beneficiaries of the Hope Scholarship are the car dealers. Enough parents used the money they saved on tuition to buy their young student a new car, they invented a new term for it – the Hopemobile.

Most of today’s students look with distain at the idea of living in a 13×13’ dormitory room.

My old dorm room looked pretty much like this.

Share it with a roommate? Never!

Use a communal restroom and shower room down the hall? Who are you kidding?

Most now live in relative luxury in off-campus apartments or in more-expensive apartment- or suite-style residence halls.

I’m sure there a few students for whom the Hope cutback this will be a hit, but for many, perhaps a great majority, this will be a minor inconvenience.

So if you are faced with an additional $34 a month in education expenses, what can you live without? Your smart phone? Your car? Your cable TV service? Your regular Thursday night bash at the student-bar? Your “luxury” apartment?  I’m sure it would be a tough decision.

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