Discussion Of Whether Ivy League Colleges Cater To The Wealthy

In high school you always hear that college is the next step and once you finish that, you are set for a long and happy life. But, how realistic is that? Not all people that go to college end up getting a paying job right after college, or even years after that. In reality, the only people that are guaranteed a decent paying job right after college are those who go to Ivy League’s. Granted, not all students that attend Ivy League’s will get a job but it is more likely than not that they will. Is that fair, especially considering that more than half of our nation doesn’t even make enough money a year to pay the tuition for an Ivy League like Harvard? Is it true that Ivy League colleges cater to the wealthy?

In 1980, the minimum wage you could expect an American to make was only three dollars and ten cents per hour. At this rate an Ivy League school like Harvard, which costed $1,000 per academic year, would only take 323 hours, roughly four months at twenty hours per week, to pay off. This amount of time would let you pay for an entire years worth of tuition over your summer break. Now in the year 2019, minimum wage is anywhere between seven dollars and twenty-five cents to twelve dollars an hour, while Harvard’s tuition for one academic year is $47,074. To pay your way through one year of Harvard now, it would take anywhere between four to six years working twenty hours a week. Between 1980 and now there has been over a 11,500% increase to Harvard’s yearly tuition. With those numbers alone, we are lead to believe that Ivy League colleges cater to the wealthy. Although, there are other ways to finance your way through Ivy League colleges, are they feasible?

Over half of Harvard’s student body is supported by financial aid and of that half, 70% are completely covered by grants (Harvard.edu). Every student that is receiving financial help, has to reapply every academic year. Students that qualify for a scholarship or financial aid, with a combined student/parent assets with less than $65,000 per year, receive a full ride scholarship. Students with less than $150,000 with combined assets receive financial aid or a partial scholarship depending on how much the household makes a year (Harvard gazette). In spite of all these financial opportunities, how likely is it for a student to earn one of these awards?

The acceptance rate to get into an Ivy League like Harvard is 5% or less. Most incoming students have a GPA of at least 4.18 and an SAT score of 1510 according to PrepScholar. Harvard is not only asking you to be the best of the best but they are also asking you to come to a school where you compete at a rigorous level. Now if you can not afford this school you will apply for financial aid or a scholarship. But, not everyone that applies for these amenities can get them. How hard are these scholarships you ask? Of the brilliant students that attend Harvard, one in five students pay nothing to attend. These scholarships may not be rare to come by, but you have to be the best out of everyone at Harvard. Ivy League’s do not just give free money to anyone that wants to attend your college. Colleges want to give their money away to students that not only really need it but also students that can thrive there. If 70% of the student body is on some kind of financial aid, who is paying all that money?

According to Harvard’s website, students that need financial aid will apply every year and they use a net price calculator which incorporates all of your parent’s money and assets but also your’s. Yale has the same calculator on their website but theirs goes more in depth. They ask personal questions to decipher what you will pay to attend their school. At Yale, some of the scholarships come from the Universities own money. Most of financial aid or scholarships are merit-based. These are not offered by Yale, but by private companies and different non-profit organizations. These merit - based scholarships may reduce how much financial aid you receive from Yale. Finally, the last type of money you can receive are entitlement grants. These are given out by the federal government that has no association with the school. If you can not apply for any of these, you can always get a job on campus that goes toward all your expenses. Where as Harvard has many different opportunities. Because so much of Harvard’s student body is on some type of scholarship or financial aid they have many different scholarships and grants. There are at least five different types according to Harvard’s main website. Most of the money given away by Harvard comes from gracious alumni. After all that, what happens if you don’t qualify for any money and yet you still can’t afford it? To me, that does not seem very fair.

Is it fair that even though students that are smart enough to get into elite colleges can not attend them because of tuition prices? This is where I start to believe that many elite colleges target the wealthy. Many students that get into elite colleges need to go to an elite high school to be able to get a high enough GPA and rigorous courses to be able to attend an Ivy League. Why do some people want to go to an Ivy League anyways? Is the education really that different or do people just go to the elite colleges just for the name?

In my personal opinion, Harvard and Yale and other colleges are just the name. Many people only go to these Ivy League’s because they are almost guarenteed a great job after college. If you were competing for a job between someone that went to Arizona State University and an Ivy League, the job is bound to choose the applicant who went to the higher prestigious college. I do not think that is very fair. But, when is life ever fair?

In conclusion, Ivy League’s may give many opportunities to students who need financial aid but in the end they are targeting wealthier students overall. Back in 1980, you could pay for a year of college in just as short as four months. Nowadays it would take you six years to pay for just one year. I think out of state tuition should be abolished because we all live in the United States. So, not all Ivy Leagues target the wealthy but the majority do.  

16 December 2021
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