America’s Financial Aid System – Week One

Hello everyone!

My name is Madiha Rizvi and I am a third-year student at Loyola. I am majoring in biology, which usually surprises people because this internship that I am doing is in History. But the subject is of importance not only to me, but also many other students at Loyola, which is why I chose to do this research project with Dr. Elizabeth Tandy Shermer, assistant professor of history at LUC.

The research I am doing will hopefully help Dr. Shermer with her research on education funding. I am focusing on the student loan and grant disbursement for undergraduates in America, and how it was decided that more loans would be given over grants (such as the Pell Grant). In order to do this, I will be looking at both primary and secondary documents, focusing on mostly on postwar America, because federal financial aid really grew after World War II. This is the broad topic of my paper–as I begin my research, I plan on narrowing this down to focus on a specific Act that is of most interest to me–how that Act came to be, its effects on financial aid, etc.

In addition to this, another thing that I am looking into is loans v. grant offerings for students going into medical school.  Since I plan on going to medical school, one of the things that will affect my decision of where I go will be the cost of attending that school. Medical school, just like any other graduate school, is expensive. The cost has been compared to that one would incur if they were ‘buying a house.’ This is a scary thought–right after graduation, my first investment would be into med school, and it will be that pricey. Thank goodness for student loans, right? Well, yes, you can still take out federal and private loans for graduate school like you can for undergrad right now–but unfortunately, in 2011, Congress released a bill that ended subsidized student loans. This means that you can take out a federal loan for medical school, but your loan will accrue interest while you are still at school. I plan on further exploring how this decision was made and why.

(Many students can relate to this meme. But my preliminary research shows that the ‘rich’ are actually the ones receiving financial aid, while the poor are going to state schools because they do not think they will receive financial aid at the expensive private institutions. More on that soon!)

So this is my project for this fall! Dr. Shermer and I will be meeting every Tuesday so she can check my progress. The first step was to read the first two chapters of Archibald’s “Redesigning the Financial Aid System” and to make a synopsis of the argument he’s making as well as his description of how federal aid has changed over time. It is a lot of information, and I do not want to bore you all with the details, but the most interesting aspect so far is his idea for, well, redesigning America’s financial aid system–he thinks roles should be reversed between colleges and the government. The government should be responsible for giving grants, while colleges should give out student loans. Archibald believes that college tuition increased in order for colleges to provide more financial assistance, and this is his proposed solution to the problem. I look forward to reading further to see what else he has to say, because this is a very interesting proposal.

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