On Financial Aid

A friend pulled me aside recently. “You know the financial aid initiative sounds good, but some parents are concerned. They know that they work really hard, and many of them have to stretch just to send their son to UCC. The idea that others can just get a free ride, well, it doesn’t sit well with everyone.”

A couple of thoughts on this:

First, I know that it is more than just a few people who have to work very hard to make UCC a reality for their sons. A lot of our parents go to great lengths to make a UCC education possible, and their willingness to sacrifice speaks volumes about their priorities. (It’s also one of the reasons why I’d like to limit the number of fundraisers we run at the school. Very few of our students actually have jobs, so the “toonie” for the good cause usually comes from someone else’s wallet!)

Second, a growing number of the financial aid recipients at UCC are working professionals. You and your spouse can both have good jobs, but if you want to send a couple of kids to independent schools, while you are carrying a mortgage, you may need some help. That’s one of the main reasons why we want to expand our financial aid program.

While we will have a small number of boys who come from significantly disadvantaged backgrounds, we do not want to create a “barbell” environment, one consisting of only the richest of the rich and the smartest of the poor. We want to make sure that an economic limitation doesn’t prevent an ambitious and capable student from attending our school.

Do some folks game the system? Sure, it happens. But the fact that some people cheat on their taxes doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t do our part. In an effort to be as fair as possible we use a third party, Apple Financial, to determine who qualifies for aid and how much he qualifies for. And in order to be as fair and up to date as possible, we require recipients to reapply for aid each year.

I realize that financial aid isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s important for me, though, because I’m convinced that a vibrant and sustainable financial aid program is in the long-term best interest of our school and of our boys — all of our boys, by the way. It is as important for those whose parents can cover the full tuition, as it is for those whose parents cannot. That fundamental belief in accessibility is a hallmark of the great schools of North America and beyond, and UCC should not shrink from holding ourselves to that same lofty standard.


3 thoughts on “On Financial Aid

  1. Two working professionals, with good jobs, can’t afford to send their kids to private school without financial aid because they have a mortgage to pay? That doesn’t sound right to me. If a private school education is a real priority, then they can downsize to a more affordable home with a smaller mortgage, among other things. I cannot believe that such families are getting aid. I can’t help thinking that UCC isn’t subsidizing the education of their children, but rather helping these families sustain a lifestyle that they don’t want to give up.

    Some of my friends who live in big houses, drive luxury cars and take their families on expensive vacations every year complain that they can’t afford to buy organic food. Would these families qualify for aid?

    Sorry – I am sure that is not the case. Please accept my apologies for the sarcasm. Obviously, the issue that your friend brought up has touched a nerve. From all appearances, my family is poor compared to these friends that I have described. Yet my children go to private school and eat organic food while theirs do not. I’ve just had a thought. Perhaps I should buy a bigger house and then apply for financial aid? (Sorry again…)

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