Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson students not surprised with recent Princeton Review ranking on college’s financial aid

The+Office+of+Financial+Aid+in+the+Union+Bank+Building.+
Diana Bravo
The Office of Financial Aid in the Union Bank Building.

Emerson College has recently earned the distinction of the worst college in the country for  financial aid in the Princeton Review’s Financial Aid Not So Great list, and for many students actively seeking financial aid from the college, the latest ranking is not much of a surprise.  

Justin Sharifipour, the interim vice president for Enrollment Management in the college’s financial aid department, reported that the college awarded $19.6 million in financial aid last year to the first-year class out of the $72.1 million the school has across every year. Emerson’s two percent tuition hike last semester raised some concern in students, especially those not given additional financial aid to compensate for the price increase. 

The college’s financial aid department acknowledges that students are upset with the cost of attendance, and the college is planning to help combat the tuition increase with a larger pool of money available for financial aid. President Jay Bernhardt plans to prioritize this issue in the near future. 

“One of the key pieces of Dr. Bernhardt’s initiatives is to raise more money for financial aid, and that is something that we are very much supportive of,” Sharifipour said.

Angela Grant, assistant vice president of Student Financial Aid Services, stated that at Emerson, financial aid covers not just need and income-based scholarships, but loans and grants as well, which are accessible to nearly every student based on need and income. This comprehensive approach ensures that almost every student at Emerson can apply for some form of financial assistance.

“Our priority is to make sure that students know what they need to do in order to file their financial aid applications on time so that we can get them the best financial aid award possible,” Grant said. 

The college’s financial aid website provides students with applications for financial aid or contact information for their financial aid officer. Appealing for financial aid can be done directly through the Student Financial Services (SFS) portal.

“From there we will contact them and ask for additional paperwork if we need it or just ask some questions if we need that and then I will try to make adjustments to their financial aid,” Grant said.  

Although navigating the financial aid portal may be difficult, representatives and financial aid advisors’ contact are easily contacted, and their information can be found on the college’s financial aid website

Grant said the college’s financial aid department tries its best to work closely with students, assisting them with financial aid packages or financial aid appeals and to ensure the process is as accessible as possible.

“One good thing that [students] might not realize is that when you go into the SFS portal, you can actually set an appointment for Zoom or an in-person appointment or schedule a phone call with your financial aid officer right there through the student financial aid portal,” Grant said. 

But for many students, including junior WLP major Teya Sorenson, accessibility hasn’t been a major issue. She is more concerned that her current financial aid package has not kept up with the hike in tuition. 

“They say they’re going to offer something and then they offer absolutely nothing,” said Sorenson. “I’ve met with my financial aid officer. I’ve talked with them. I think it’s not so much an issue with access.” 

In response to the tuition hike last semester, Sorenson worked two jobs over the summer to help pay for tuition.

“I heard from other people that [tuition increases] had been happening for years and years,” Sorenson said. “So, I was like, ‘maybe I should look into transferring or finding a way to make more money and pay for this because that’s not really sustainable.’” 

With increased tuition, many students are now more worried than ever about how they will pay off their tuition and student loans taken out during their time at the college. 

“I can’t think of a student who wouldn’t worry about student debt,” Sorenson said. “I think it’s kind of crazy how normalized it is to just be in horrible amounts of debt for half your life.” 

Some students are also concerned about how their money is being allocated and how they can get more financial aid to compensate for the tuition increase. 

“I think [Emerson] should start off by being a lot more transparent with how much they give and [how much they keep],” Leila Parker, a senior WLP major, said. “They obviously have quite a lot that they’re hiking tuition, and dedicating more towards grants and making the school more affordable.”

Parker added that she thought the school’s resources were not going directly to the students, even though they are the ones paying the high tuition rates. 

“[Emerson is] a nice school and they have a lot of investments, [but] they shouldn’t rely on students paying almost full tuition and international students to make their bottom line,” she said.

“I think they have a very tuition-dependent model and maybe moving away from that and being transparent and trying to give students with higher needs more help,” Parker continued. 

With high costs, many students feel that the Emerson experience is hindered by stress over ever-increasing tuition. 

“I know a lot of people in the same boat who were really excited to go to Emerson, but it’s so much money, crazy expensive,” said Kayden Bryant, a freshman WLP major. “It’s just really limiting how high the prices are.”

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About the Contributor
Kaitlyn Smitten, Staff Writer
Kaitlyn Smitten (she/her) is a freshman journalism student from Red Deer, Alberta. Canada. Kaitlyn is a part of the Emerson College softball team and enjoys traveling, reading, and listening to music. She aspires to be an investigative and/or breaking news reporter.
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