Docking financial aid based on attendance makes for unfair policy

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The implementation of a new policy regulating financial aid based on attendance is illogical and could result in unfair reductions to student grant money.

According to a Sept. 12 University Star article, Pell Grant, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant and TEACH Grant recipients who do not attend classes they are enrolled in and receiving aid for may have their grants docked accordingly. If students are recorded as “absent” in a course on the 12th class day, they will now be assumed to have not attended class at all, and will have aid partially withdrawn.

Chris Murr, director of Financial Aid and Scholarship, said this is not a new regulation, but one the university will now follow in an effort to comply with federal rules. While it is commendable the university is now following federal rules—and somewhat concerning that they weren’t being followed in the first place—this regulation is unreasonable.

The problem is the new policy only monitors attendance one day out of an entire semester. Students aware of the policy can easily mark their calendars and set plans to attend the one class day that matters, completely circumventing the policy’s point.

Conversely, if grant-receiving students have no choice but to miss the 12th day because of injury or illness, it could result in unfair deductions or at the very least create unnecessary struggles for those attempting to explain their absence.

If federal officials want to regulate aid disbursement based on attendance, the least they could do is dock aid based on class attendance policies over the course of an entire semester instead of the arbitrary method currently in place. As long as students stay within course guidelines for attendance, their aid should not be reduced.

However, good attendance is not a guarantee students will do well in a class. Students may be more likely to do well in a class if they have attended a few lectures, but not necessarily. Many core-level classes are basically common sense and require no more than a small degree of life experience and intellect to pass.

Because some students are able to do well in a class without attending, aid should not be dependent upon just showing up. Instead, federal agencies and officials should consider a policy where aid is conditional upon the grade a student earns. If students fail their classes, then aid is docked—simple as that.

Many of the students who receive these grants depend upon them to continue attending college. The aid they receive should therefore not be cut without good reason. As long as students are passing classes in a timely fashion, they are moving towards a degree. Attendance record is irrelevant.

There are dozens of other ways federal aid can be more effectively regulated. The implementation of a policy based around attendance is inane and unfair, and should be reconsidered in order to create a more logical and efficient system to monitor aid money.