Whittier College and the Financial Aid Scandal
Jane J. Kim, writing for College Journal from the Wall Street Journal, recently reported that "Norm Reddick of Westlake Village, California, ran into delays when he took out a loan for his daughter from a lender that wasn't on Whittier College's preferred list. Last July, Mr. Reddick applied for a loan with MyRichUncle, a student lender owned by MRU Holdings Inc. But he says the [College] didn't process the loan until October.

" "When I called the financial aid department to find out why the loan was delayed, they just said this isn't a lender that we work with," says the 62 year old dentist who decided to use MyRichUncle because it was offering a lower interest rate on PLUS loans than lenders his daughter's school [Whittier College] was recommending."

According to U. S. News, Whittier College graduates are the third most deeply indebted of all liberal arts college graduates in the United States, but Whittier's degrees are very far from the third most highly valued liberal arts college-granted degrees in the U. S.

See all of 'Weathering the Storm In Student Loans: As Furor Mounts Over Schools' Preferred-Lender Lists, Families Can Often Find Better Deals Shopping On Their Own by Jane J. Kim for the WSJ's College Journal: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mistudentaid/WSJArticle_1_207758_7.pdf

See also: http://www.townhall.com/Columnists/LynnOShaughnessy/2007/05/26/where_to_find_the_Fairest_prices_for_student_loans

NEW: Why pay too much for a Whittier College degree, when you can go to a better school for free?

"Princeton University was the first to adopt a no-loan policy for all financial-aid students in 2001. Since then, more than 30 schools have added similar programs," writes Eileen Ambrose of the Baltimore Sun, in her Colleges turn discounters article published in the Los Angeles Times (Sunday, December 23, 2007, Business section, C4), accompanied by a photo of students on the Caltech campus in Pasadena. Caltech is among many schools implementing plans to eliminate loans for middle income as well as low income student families. For years, Harvard among other schools has not required families with incomes under $60,000 to contribute to the cost of their child's higher education, even though genuinely diverse Harvard, unlike Whittier College, receives no Title V Hispanic-Serving Institution funding.

Dick Nixon was accepted by Harvard University, but his family couldn't pay costs not covered by the limited scholarship offered. Whittier College was never Dick Nixon's first choice, even though, and likely because, his family resided in Whittier. Today, grants have replaced loans in Harvard undergraduate financial aid packages. Families with incomes under $180,000 now have a contribution cap of 10% of that income, "a big discount". Contributions from student families with income from $60,000 to $120,000 are determined by a sliding scale from nothing up to 10%, 10% being paid only by those with incomes between $120,000 and $180,000. Harvard also now exempts home equity from financial aid calculations, reports Ambrose.

Tens of colleges and universities from coast to coast, their number augmented every year, are offering what Whittier College offers and more, and in many cases much more, and without the clouds on Whittier's horizon, for free for many, and genuinely greatly discounted for middle and even upper-middle class families. Who knows what Dick Nixon might have made of himself if he had gone to Harvard, had been enabled to believe in American values and championed them, instead of Whittier, where his bitterness and cynicism led to his seduction by the dark side, by the lack of conscience and remorse, the corruption, that drove the Friends away from the school they founded?

Ambrose brings to our attention Kalman Chany, who wrote Paying for College Without Going Broke, and says that colleges "have been charging what the market can bear. The market is not going to bear these costs anymore." Ambrose notes growing pressure on schools by student families and Congress to reduce student debt, and concern on the part of schools, finally, "that they are pricing out middle-income families with cost increases that consistently outpace inflation." The College Cost Reduction and Access Act (H.R. 2669) is just one example of Congressional response to the ever deepening student debt crisis, now taking on a surreal aspect as student loans are hawked through television commercials like any other product, even as college graduates' homes are foreclosed on. Ambrose writes, "Pressure from families and Congress isn't about to abate any time soon", and suggests schools will have to reduce student debt burdens to avoid the "glare" of being spotlighted for not doing so.

Meanwhile, Ambrose advises, "Don't assume that you have to pay the full sticker price. Paying for college is like buying a car or an airline ticket - what you pay may not be the same as the next person." Kalman Chany echoes, "Higher education is a discounting industry." Student families suspend their critical faculties when dealing with colleges, as they would never do with a car dealership or airline, at their own expense, and what a long and heavy burden that expense turns out to be for Whittier College student families.

James Boyle, President of College Parents of America, counsels parent(s) and child to openly discuss the financial aspect of the child's higher education, which "is sometimes a taboo topic within a family," according to Boyle, who goes on to point out the advantages of parent and child being "on the same page of what the family can afford," among them being enabled to make realistic evaluations of aid packages, and to act effectively in their individual and the family's best interests. More and more schools now offer financial aid calculators on their websites, for prospective student families to see more clearly just what they're dealing with at a particular school. It is very important for student families to clarify exactly what all the expenses per school year will be, so that their calculations prove accurate.

Whittier College needs students. Prospective student families, if they inform themselves about financial aid, can pressure Whittier College to offer a deal more honestly reflecting the value of a Whittier degree, and a more realistic deal in comparison with the deals offered by other colleges. Returning students can also negotiate for loan reduction and even elimination, and certainly for better new loan terms.

Hispanic student families can negotiate based on making clear that they know Whittier College receives Title V funds because their child among others is being counted to qualify the College for Hispanic-Serving Institution status. The only explanation for Whittier College not informing Hispanic students that they've been recruited and counted to enable the College to obtain federal funds through the H-S I program, is that the College doesn't want Latinos to know, and then demand the help Congress intended, not loans low income families can't afford. Whittier College cannot much longer hold itself out as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and provide only the same old separate and unequal reality that has characterized the City of Whittier's and Whittier College's history. Of Whittier College students studying abroad, for example, only 10% are Hispanic.

All student families should question financial aid packages offered by Whittier College, clarify the real total cost to student families, make certain no lower interest rate loans are available, make the best deal possible, which will not be obtained by quietly accepting whatever the College says, especially one as shady as Whittier College.

It's not just Harvard, but also Pomona College, Rice, Swarthmore, Colby, small private colleges as well as private as well as public universities, and not only those with endowments the size of small national budgets, who are committing themselves to making sure there aren't any more disappointed young students like Dick Nixon, or students like those at Whittier College today, who will become embittered by years of undermining debt, whether they end up degreed or not, and if graduated, with a degree of decreasing value in a difficult job market. Whittier College recruiters and recruitment materials, false advertising, notwithstanding, a studentsreview.com survey of Whittier College graduates shows only a third working in an area related to their major, and that half are unemployed altogether.

Buyer Beware!

To whittiergate:

Some "...parents call [Whittier College Financial Aid] crying" while "Some families think, "Oh well, you can't put a price on education." But God 42k for Whittier?"

The following is a partial list of schools pledged to "limit the use of loans and clarify college costs" according to guidelines established by the Project on Student Debt:

Amherst College
Appalachian State University
Arizona State University
Brown University
California Institute of Technology
Colby College
College of William and Mary
Columbia University in the City of New York
Dartmouth College
Davidson College
Duke University
Emory University
Harvard University
Haverford College
Indiana University, Bloomington
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Michigan State University
North Carolina State University
Pomona College
Princeton University
Rice University
Stanford University
Swarthmore College
Tufts University
University of California (systemwide)
University of Chicago
University of Florida
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne
University of Louisville
University of Maryland, College Park
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
University of Pennsylvania
University of Tennessee
University of Virginia
Wesleyan University
Williams College
Yale University

The Project's list is annotated. Haverford, for example, is replacing loans with grants for incoming freshman, and reducing the loan obligations of returning students.

We recommend that you see the Project on Student Debt's website: www.projectonstudentdebt.org, not only for annotated lists of colleges and universities reducing and eliminating student loans, but also for analyses of the financial aid packages offered by schools pledged to loan reduction and elimination, and accurate information regarding all aspects of student debt.

Prospective student families should also invest in a little research into how a school's graduates fare after graduation - before even applying to a college.

From a studentsreview.com survey of Whittier College alumni:

- 50% are unemployed.

- only 33% of those employed are working in the field for which they believed they were being prepared.

And this survey was conducted before the financial panic of 2009!

The truth is that much of what Whittier College claims, from what majors are available to its students to their employment prospects after graduation, is false. Buyer Beware.

'One student's losing battle with private loans' by Fruzina Eordogh (How $43,000 of student loans turn into a $123,350 debt): http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2010/02/25/money-college-why-one-student-advises-avoiding-private-student/

Student families should take a fresh look at higher education today altogether. The following look at higher education today by Marty Nemko is of interest in this regard: http://www.martynemko.com/articles/transcript-americas-most-overrated-product-undergraduate-education_id1234

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