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.