A week or so ago my parents opened up their mailbox to find a check for $1,200 - meet their "economic stimulus" package from the government. Now that's all good and well for my parents, they could use an extra $1,200 for all the home remodeling they want to do around the house; but, where's my stimulus package?
I have a Social Security Number, an income higher than $3,000 and I filed a tax return. Those are the main three conditions on the Internal Revenue Services main page about the stimulus package. BUT...read the fine print and no such economic luck for this 21 year old college student because my parents can claim (and do claim) me as a dependent!
Really, I shouldn't have much to complain about. My parents support me as much as they can so that by the time I graduate college, come spring 2009, I'll only be about $20,000 in debt. It's mere pennies when I look around at some of my other friends who are putting their college tuition bill on a credit card. But, what if I didn't have my parents support? The government takes this for granted not only with the economic stimulus package, but also when a student applies for Federal or State financial aid.
I logged on to College Board in my quest to show the college-age need for financial help and was appalled at the facts I discovered:
"The cost of tuition for a student to attend a private institution in the 2007-2008 academic year went up by 6.3%."
"The cost of tuition for a student to attend a public institution in the 2007-2008 academic year went up by 6.6%. College Board reports that there is over $130 billion in financial aid available to students, but the bottom line is, which students? "
It should come as no surprise that the middle class tends to be left feeling like they're getting the cold shoulder when it comes to financial aid. According to an article in Business Week some big name schools, such as Harvard and Yale, are embracing the middle class and offering better aid packages.
"But despite this big talk, real help for the middle class, at least for the majority of families with students at colleges with fewer financial resources than the Ivies and other elites, will not be coming any time soon."
This definitely is true when, according to the same Business Week article, 76 colleges "had endowments topping $1 billion or more."
However, this all takes for granted the same thing...families are helping the student through college. A friend of mine is trying to pay off her college expenses and is having a hard time doing so because her parents are not helping her in any way (they even jeopardized her ability to fill out the forms for aid because you need parental information). This is leaving her at a complete loss...and while she gets money from the government (something my family and I have never received) it isn't nearly enough. The government always looks at what your parents make and base the aid you receive off of these figures and assume your parents will help you.
Let me give you an example...Both of my parents are working at decent paying jobs (by decent...please take into account that neither have college degrees...decent looks a lot more grim when you take that into consideration). Also, to make ends meet, my dad took on a second job about five years ago (at about a dollar higher than minimum wage). At the end of the year that leaves my parents with a pretty good joint income; however, when you take into consideration the rising cost of fuel prices (which isn't helping my dad's one way 30 minute daily commute), bills that keep increasing because fuel is increasing and the rising cost of even FOOD that leaves my parents' pockets pretty empty by the time the tuition bill arrives in the mail. But, the government doesn't care about that. They still say that my parents should be able to give me a ridiculous amount of money annually for tuition. To this I say very sarcastically....yeah right!
I guess in the end while $600 or even $300 (if my parents would have gotten additional economic stimulus money for a "child") really wouldn't make a huge difference when it comes to tuition. Especially when, according to The Project on Student Debt's findings:
"Over the past decade, debt levels for graduating seniors with student loans more
than doubled from $9,250 to $19,200 – a 108% increase (58% after accounting
"At public 4-year institutions, 62.4% of graduating seniors have education debt. Of
• Half have at least $15,472 in student loans;
• One-fourth have at least $22,822 in student loans;
• Ten percent have student debt of $32,994 or more."
"At private, non-profit 4-year institutions, 73.9% of graduating seniors have education
debt. Of those borrowers:
• Half have at least $19,500 in student loans;
• One-fourth have at least $28,222 in student loans;
• Ten percent have student debt of $40,000 or more."
However, it would have been nice if I could have had that extra money and not be left feeling like the government doesn't care. $600 could have bought me about 154 gallons of gas (at $3.89 which is what my local Sunoco station is charging) but let's be serious...by the end of the summer I'll be lucky if $600 would cover 100 gallons.
Either way, it's my personal belief that an "economic stimulus" package is a little too late to save this economy. It's just a way to prolong the inevitable. But, we'll just let our next president handle that...*rolls eyes*