FAFSA’s Anticipated Household Contribution Is Going Away. Good Riddance.

“The idea is that the university knows you well enough to expect something from you,” said Sara Goldrick-Rab, professor of sociology and medicine at Temple University and author of Paying the Price: College Costs, Aid, and Treason at the American Dream University. “You get these words very early in the relationship and they don’t really know you at all. It doesn’t build trust. “

Then comes the kicker: this expectation can only be the beginning. “College often expects students to pay more than the EFC,” said Robert Kelchen, associate professor of higher education at Seton Hall University and author of Higher Education Accountability.

For students applying to college straight out of high school, “family” in the EFC usually means parents, as it is almost impossible for students to work their way through college in a reasonable time.

However, the EFC does not consider families where parents believe a child should try to pull this off. Or when parents look wrongly at higher education because they see no value in it and then decide not to help. Or when students feel obliged to help parents, even (or especially) when parents cannot help them.

Alienation also complicates matters. “With LGBTQ students, people really start to understand the problem right away,” said Dr. Goldrick-Rab. “If a 19 year old comes out and is cut off, what is family?”

The EFC also does not take into account extended families and obligations to aging parents, aunts, brothers, or selected families.

“It rejects any responsibility that might lie elsewhere,” said Dr. Zaloom.

By putting the EFC’s final word in the language of charity, the federal financial assistance system seeks to soften the blow. Sure, powerful powers demand from parents whether they like it or not, but at least it’s some kind of gift. Law?

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