Queasy

I freaked my husband out this morning.

I told him that my father refused to fill out the FAFSA for me when I wanted to attend college. In case you have not reached that point in your life yet, the FAFSA‘s the very long and intrusive document you complete to see if you qualify for student aid, scholarships and work study. Its income based and counts all sorts of parental assets.

The topic came up because the man of the moment, Mitt Romney, had remarked last March that if students couldn’t afford college they should “borrow money from their parents”. If this doesn’t officially qualify as Romney’s “let them eat cake” comment I can’t imagine what will. Obama correctly pointed out that not everyone has parents that can give them a loan for college.

Mitt’s parents paid for his college but not his living expenses. His hard work/hard luck story is that he and Ann lived by selling off stock that his dad bought him with his birthday money each year. They were frugal and had to suffer bad furniture. That is so very different than the consequences from reducing the amount, number and eligibility for Pell grants given to low income students and raising the interest rates for all other student loans.

My parents didn’t get into all that student loan stuff when I graduated from high school. They didn’t help me pick out colleges nor did they fill out applications. If I was going to college, which they fully expected, I had to figure it out myself and pay for it myself. My dad had a kind of queasy feeling about the federal government.

The feds obviously had his social security number and DOB and so forth because he was in the Air Force and the Army, and he paid his taxes, but he really didn’t hold with giving them any information that wasn’t required, and the FAFSA wasn’t required. My eldest brother also refused to fill out the FAFSA for his daughter but his only excuse is that he is an idiot.

I can kind of understand my fathers position, it probably stemmed from his upbringing in rural Pennsylvania. Family lore was that his beloved grandmother (for whom I am named) was a bootlegger during prohibition. That’s just one reason to be wary of the federal man.

My larger point is that as queasy as one might be with federal governments involvement in day to day life there are sound reasons why this is preferred over the Ayn Rand/Every Capitalist for Himself system. My parents tax return probably would have qualified me for those Pell grants that Republicans insist are the very milk that addicts you to the government teat, so really, they did me a favor. 

I don’t know what the qualifications were in 1983 but the ones that send R&R into fits are a family of 4 has to make $30k or less in order to qualify for ~$4,900, the student has to attend full time at a 4 year college and you can’t use funding for summer classes (which are shorter and cheaper). Why cancel funding to a program that excludes so many already?

The problem is the recession and lack of low-middle wage jobs. Because laid off/downsized workers need training and retraining to qualify for the jobs that remain in the US, people need to go to college. In 2006, 5.2 million low income students qualified for Pell grants and went to college. In 2010 that ballooned to 9 million. You see why R&R have to cut this off right now?

Those folks need to ask their parents for a loan to go to college not the government. Or maybe they could ask some republicans with off-shore accounts and foriegn corporation addresses (Eaton anyone?) to consider manufacturing in the US and paying their actual taxes.

Just a thought.

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