Of all the sad situations in our world – and there are many – I think one of the saddest is of students who want to go to college, are qualified to go to college, and would make the most of college, but can’t…
Because they can’t afford college.
When a lack of money stops someone from becoming an outstanding teacher, a brilliant doctor, an amazing technology expert, or whatever career they aspire to, not only do they lose out, but so does our society and our world.
So it especially saddened me when I saw this story:
SDSU – San Diego State University – is part of the California State University (CSU) system, which is comprised of 23 campuses offering higher education to almost a half-million students.
And according to this story, over the past 10 years SDSU has failed to award $20 million in available scholarships to deserving students – who want to go to college, are qualified to go to college, and would make the most of college, but can’t…
Because they can’t afford college.
Let’s do the math. According to the article, the current annual cost of tuition and fees at SDSU is $7,488.
So four years of tuition and fees would run about $30,000.
If we take that $20 million and divide it by $30,000, it equals 666.
By my reckoning, 666 students could have attended SDSU for four years, their tuition and fees paid with that $20 million.
That’s 666 people on their way to becoming teaches, doctors, tech wizards and more – SDSU offers 95 bachelor’s degrees in everything from Accounting to Japanese to Women’s Studies.
But that didn’t happen, and that’s an incalculable loss.
Why did SDSU fail to give away all that scholarship money?
According to the article,
“Campus officials said SDSU has been hobbled by an outdated scholarship management system that can make it difficult for students to find and apply for the awards.”
It’s clear that SDSU has known about this system failure for a long time.
The article goes on to say,
“Until the early 2000s, SDSU students typically had to visit an office on campus and thumb through large binders to see which scholarships were available. They would file a paper application if they located one.
“SDSU later developed its own scholarship management software, which worked for a while. But school officials say the current version can be confusing, time consuming and incomplete.”
And to this day, students are still required to file an application for every award they seek.
So the school officials knew their system sucked.
But wait – it gets worse:
SDSU is adopting the Blackbaud Award Management System, which is used by 19 other CSU campuses.
If 19 of the 23 campuses in the California State University system were already using this system – what was SDSU waiting for?
A hand-written invitation from those 19 other campuses?
SDSU President Adela de la Torre says she’s been working on the problem with faculty and staff, noting that, “We all agreed that the fund distribution sitting below 70 percent for several years was not acceptable.”
“Not acceptable”? How about careless? Negligent? Egregiously negligent?
Madam President also said that “the university will endeavor to award at least 90 percent of its scholarship money each year.”
“Endeavor”? Is that like “try”?
How about “The university will award…”
How about “The university commits to awarding…”
How about “As president, please must hold me accountable for awarding…”
And sadly, Madam Pres, you’re too late for those 666 future teachers, doctors and tech wizards.
Perhaps they went to another college.
Perhaps they didn’t go to any college.
The California State University system’s lengthy mission statement includes the following:
- To provide opportunities for individuals to develop intellectually, personally, and professionally.
- To encourage and provide access to an excellent education to all who are prepared for and wish to participate in collegiate study.
To that – for SDSU – I would add:
- To maximize those opportunities and access, we award scholarships to eligible students, but it’s too bad our system is confusing, time consuming and incomplete.
SDSU’s fall semester starts in August.
How many students won’t be going there because…