Federal grants need symmetry
In the ongoing collegiate funding struggle to balance need with merit, easy answers have been difficult to find.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, President Barack Obama has decided to dismantle Bush-era higher-education federal funding initiatives that are based on a merit formula. These programs include Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) and Academic Competitiveness Grant.
SMART provides funding for students pursuing a degree in the branches of science or mathematics. Meant to fund and encourage future scientists and mathematicians, the initiative appeared logical and savvy.
In lieu of this, Obama wishes to expand PELL Grant funding that was cut and curtailed during his predecessor’s tenure. Many students miss out on PELL support because it is intended for low-income students.
Academic Competitiveness Grant and SMART offer students an alternative while rewarding them for enduring a massive academic workload during high school and college.
The debate surrounding these grants raises several questions, including: Can we find balance between financial need and academic merit? Should we help those in financial need or reward those who took competitive high school curriculum and display academic prowess?
In a time when academia worries about average admitted SAT scores, admission yields, faculty productivity and the student-to-teacher ratio, a plan that offers incentives for merit and assistance for the less fortunate would change everything.
The key could be combing all of the grants into one balanced grant.
This plan would provide financial rewards, motivating students to enroll in rigorous high school courses or endeavor in a career they thought was out of reach because of monetary concerns. Meanwhile, the initiative would also fund the financially strapped, giving them a chance to receive a college education in the arts or sciences.
Government incentives based on personal action encourages and endows citizens with an empowering sense of personal responsibility. Plus, it provides them with the willingness to take chances, the courage to aim higher and the fortitude to continue reaching for their best from within.
Let’s find that balance.
Krystafer Redden is a political science and history sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]