This is the state of higher education.
Here’s my financial aid calculation for the last semester of my undergraduate career. After federal financial aid was severely restricted, I lost the Pell Grant for the spring. It was slashed in the fall from a full Pell award ($2775) to what you see above.
The University of Wyoming estimated that it will cost me $17,726 to attend for the 2012-2013 aid year. My expected family contribution is $0 because of my income bracket. I was awarded $7,985 in financial aid. Now, the estimated cost of attendance is a little higher than what it actually costs me to go to college because of cost-cutting measures I take myself. However, that still leaves a difference of $9,741 — which, of course, exists even though UW and the Department of Education are basically saying, “You’re too poor to be expected to contribute anything towards this cost.”
The difference is worse for low-income students not attending a school as cheap as UW. Our tuition is heavily subsidized by the oil and gas industry.
So when folks like to write in and castigate me for being a drag on the U.S. taxpayer by going to college, I’m not sorry. I’m barely hanging on, and what little aid I do get is going to enable me to finish. I may not get to eat three meals a day, but I will graduate.
There are other students who have it rougher than I do. But there’s way too many people who think we’re all living it up on federal aid dollars and we’re definitely not. If that’s all a student has for college expenses, trust me — they’re not living it up so much as trying to not wind up homeless.