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The student news site of Lake Forest Academy

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The overloading financial stress of the college process

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Photo by Photo by Mimi Sexton
College counselor assisting student with the college process.

LFA prides itself on diversity regarding race and ethnicity, but it is also important to note that our student body varies financially as well. Nearly 30% of the LFA community is on need-based financial aid with nearly 7% of the student body on 90% or more of financial aid. Although LFA strives to immerse students into the community who may not be able to afford campus activities such as prom, homecoming tickets, travel, and more, financial stress is still prevalent amongst students— and its prevalence gets exacerbated when it comes to the college process. In a poll conducted regarding financial worries, nearly 25% of students responded, giving insight into their concerns. 

Students were asked how often they think about their finances when considering their future. 34.6% of students stated they think about finances often, and 31.8% said finances take up a prominent part when they think of the future regarding college. A follow up question asked whether or not that affected their mental health. A student stated, “I tried so hard to get my grades up for the scholarship because I’m an international student. I can’t get financial aid, so I have to try hard. It tired me out and my depression got really worse.” Unfortunately, international students do not qualify for FAFSA, which is federal aid for U.S. citizens can receive for college. LFA has a large population of international students and it’s important to emphasize the different factors when it comes to college finances.  

Another shared, “I come from a lower middle-class family, and for that reason I am not sure if I will be completely supported in college.” These financial worries invade the minds of students throughout the school year and add extra pressure to the college admission process.  

  However, LFA’s college counselors work to eliminate those stresses for students. Assistant Dean of College Counseling, Keily Pacheco said, “We try to be as strategic as possible when it comes to creating that college list if I know that a counselee or family has discussed with me that financial aid is going to be a big part of the process.” LFAs college counselors can help set the student up for opportunities that can help them financially.

When asked how middle class families go about applying for college when they do not qualify for need-based aid, Pacheco said, “Many schools, especially small liberal arts, have created initiatives to help with middle class families.”  She continued, “I do think that in the future there is definitely going to be a better initiative that will be adopted by more than just a number of small liberal arts schools.” In terms of students worrying about “standing out” for colleges when everything is not in their control, Pacheco suggested, “One thing for sure that I encourage you to do, especially because of the space you’re in, is to network. Sometimes there are alumni speakers or dinners come in, and when those opportunities come to campus, I strongly recommend that you go in there and introduce yourself. You never know if they could help you out!” As much as the financial aspect of college causes tension and may feel as if you’re at a disadvantage, the college counselors are here to help with this process and using LFA’s opportunities can be key. 

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