The other thing about gapping is that financial-aid packages are sent by colleges a year at a time, even though the financial returns on the four-year degree only come if you actually finish the credential.
High-school seniors and their families might figure out how to fill their gap for the first year of college because they desperately want to go to a certain school, but often they don’t plan for years two through four.
That’s why gapping might be a bigger obstacle to student success than many colleges acknowledge.
Take Lydia Muse (on the left above, with her mother, Brandy, on the right). I met Brandy while reporting an article for the New York Times on gapping.
Lydia is at home right now in Fort Collins, Colo. She should be in the second semester of her sophomore year at the Rhode Island School of Design. But she’s taking a year off trying to figure out how to pay for the next three years of school.
- The first year at RISD, Lydia Muse was left with an $18,000 gap, though the bottom-line of her FAFSA form said she shouldn’t have to pay anything (she qualifies for the maximum Pell Grant, for instance).
- To pay for the first year, Brandy sold one of the family cars.
- If Lydia returns, Brandy is considering downsizing and selling her house.
- But that’s likely to cover only years two and three, and maybe part of four.
Reality check: Paying for four years of college has become a complex, elaborate, intricate financial game for families and too many are finding it to be a losing battle.
What do you think colleges should do to reduce or prevent gapping? Should more practice need-aware admissions? Should they move to four-year pricing models? Hit reply or drop me a note and I’ll feature some responses in a forthcoming edition.
👋Free Event at the ACE Annual Meeting in San Diego. Join me and…
Mark P. Becker, president, Georgia State University
Shirley M. Collado, president, Ithaca College, and member, Vanderbilt Board of Trust
Jennifer Wagner Davis, executive vice president and chief operating officer, University of Virginia
Dianne F. Harrison, president, California State University, Northridge
…for a discussion about the biggest talent challenges colleges and universities face in the future when it comes to their workforces. Sunday, March 15, 2020, 6:45 pm - 9:00 p.m. Register here.