OPINION: New financial aid grant gives necessary relief to students

OPINION: New financial aid grant gives necessary relief to students

The implementation of a new financial aid grant at Kennesaw State University is a necessary component for Georgia universities to help vulnerable students pursue higher education with less risk.

In late August 2017, new financial aid came in the form of a $106,000 grant given to KSU by the Department of Education. The funds came as a part of the Gear Up project, a statewide program enacted to help high school students secure their diplomas and muster the capital to pursue degrees in higher education. Money from the program will be used by KSU to help at-risk and low-income students transition into campus life while maintaining financial stability.

According to a Wisconsin Hope Lab study, the number of homeless and poverty-stricken students is shockingly high. Kickstarted by donations made to KSU’s CARE program last year, the grant comes at a time where concerns for students facing homelessness and poverty is garnering national attention.

Aid measures such as Gear Up, food assistance and emergency housing are — of course — humane responses to problems at KSU. It is the responsibility of the community to face homelessness and monetary need with open, creative minds.

With Gear Up, the state of Georgia has stepped up to the plate in tackling the financial side of such problems. By doing so, many students will experience much-needed economic relief in their journies through college.

The effects of such a kind action go beyond goodwill and joyous thoughts. The effects of the kind of action actively not only better our universities but our communities and our state by providing for the next generation of public leaders and thinkers that might otherwise never see such an opportunity.

The funds from the Gear Up initiative actively better KSU by granting at-risk students the opportunity to climb above class barriers to better themselves in the university setting. This, in turn, will create skilled and educated workers and an all-around better community in the Cobb County area. Focused financial aid, like this grant, is a win for everyone, not just those receiving it.

The process of academia is made better when driven minds of diverse backgrounds come together in conversation. Courting the intellect of people from all walks of life is fundamental to creating a healthy academic setting. Diversity of thought is the backbone of academia and such diversity must stretch beyond boundaries of class and wealth.

For individuals working low-wage jobs and living paycheck to paycheck, pursuing a college degree is a major financial risk. The prospect of massive loans and future debt is a major deterrent for many wishing to access academia.

Such a thing may even seem insurmountably impossible for people unable to secure so much as a constant roof over their heads. It is in these cases that targeted forms of financial aid become necessary to incentivize people with low incomes to take steps toward furthering their education.

Public universities are meant to serve the public, and this form of targeted aid is a crucial part of fulfilling that responsibility. In the future, it is critical that KSU and other universities continue to expand such efforts to assist in creating a strong academic culture and, by extension, a more capable and educated populous.

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