Colleges place price on ambition

By Safiya Merchant

At the beginning of my college application process, I decided to apply to more than five schools. I wanted to see how much financial aid each institution would offer, and then choose which school I wanted to attend. However, I did not know that the process of applying would be expensive as well.

In order to be considered for many institutions, you need to send transcripts, ACT scores, AP test scores, SAT subject test scores, financial documents, and the applications themselves. If you do not qualify for fee waivers, you can end up paying over $500 just to apply to school. Although I obtained fee waivers for my transcripts and applications (which I hope are accepted by the schools), the remaining amount that I have to pay is still too expensive. This is ridiculous. What do these fees even go towards? ‘Processing my ACT scores?’ What does that even mean? If it means printing out my scores from a computer and using their paper and ink, I want my money back. When ACT sent us our scores last year, I kept my official score report. I wanted to photo-copy my report and send that to the schools instead of sending it electronically. However, that wasn’t good enough for my choices. They needed the electronic and expensive version. How paranoid are the admission committees at these schools? Do they really think that I bribed my teachers, counselors, principal, and the ACT agency itself to lie for me and say that I got a higher score? Right…like I really have that much power. Since these fees must also be paid before you can be considered for admission, it is as if I’m paying for my rejection letter.

When counselors, teachers, and Lane’s inspirational assemblies told us to apply to about five schools, they never mentioned that I had to pay for being goal-oriented and ambitious. Nowadays, it is too expensive to want a future, and to some students, attending college is not worth the hefty price. That’s why many students decide to not attend college and to start making money right after graduation.

I also got very angry when I heard that I had to send the CSS Financial Profile to many of my college choices. This profile costs about $16.00 to send to each school and if you’re applying to six schools, you already racked up $96.00 right there. And this profile is supposed to show that I NEED money? I think that colleges and agencies like ACT have figured out every way to suck the money out of our pockets before we are even admitted to their schools.

College has become a giant business corporation whose product is a “respectable education.” I think that the primary goal of a university should be to encourage and to nurture its students, not condemn them for wanting an education. If you want to make lots of money, it seems that you have to have lots of money in the first place. As a result of this trend, everybody on the poorer end of the social spectrum cannot utilize their full potential, and those with wealth are those who win.