Low-income students deserve easy access to aid

Lauren Williams's picture

Transitioning from high school to college is a difficult process. Students move out of their homes and into new environments. They leave family and friends behind to pursue higher education. Imagine how much harder that process must be, however, for students who did not have a home in the first place.

In the United States, the number of homeless students has been increasing at an alarming rate for the past few years, according to Inside Higher Ed. The amount increased by 69 percent from 2009 to 2010 alone. By the end of 2011, the number of homeless students topped one million, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Education.

With those statistics in mind, if students in these unfortunate situations are at UCF, they must be receiving some special assistance and accommodations, right? Not so much. In the spring of 2013, UCF had just two students who received tuition and fee exemptions, according to an email from UCF spokeswoman Courtney Gilmartin. They were the only students who qualified for the aid, Gilmartin confirmed.

UCF is more than equipped and able to handle students who may need some financial assistance. There are scholarships available for almost every circumstance. As stated in the previous paragraph, UCF has allowed exemptions for students needing them. The main concern here is not the availability of aid, however, but the accessibility and visibility of it. And this goes for high schools as well. Counselors need to be equipped and educated enough to point their qualified students in the right direction.

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