Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
by Jennifer Glose, Business Manager
It is four weeks into the fall semester and Cedar Crest College Mariel Castillo, a sophomore psychology and criminal justice major, is still trying to figure out where she is going to get the money for her school books.
After Newsweek’s “The Daily Beast” issued its annual rankings of the “least affordable colleges,” Castillo was not surprised that Cedar Crest was listed as number 11. In fact, she feels that some of the college’s administrative structural changes could have something to do with it.
When Castillo’s single mother was denied the opportunity to apply for certain loans this year, she pleaded with the Cedar Crest financial aid office for the reason. It took months before she and her mother would find out the reason for the ineligibility. They hoped for the financial aid office to be more helpful, explanatory, and guiding through this process, but they were sadly disappointed with the outcome, according to Castillo.
“I am now on a five payment plan of $80 per month, had to reduce my meal plan by $200, and was even charged a late fee,” said Castillo.
Castillo credits the faculty for being a crutch through her financial hardship.
“The professors here bend over backwards for students and will give out a used book to borrow, but the people that are supposed to help you don’t,” she said.
Kaitlin Platti, a sophomore psychology and criminal justice major, is feeling the same frustration. The latest Newsweek ratings were no surprise to her, either.
“I laughed when I saw that article. Someone’s finally paying attention to the financial situations that we have to go through,” Platti expressed.
Because Platti had to be put on a reserved waiting list for classes that were full at the time of registration, her financial aid ceased due to non-enrollment. According to Platti, if the registrar would have communicated with the financial aid department regarding the reserved classes, she would not have been charged the over $6,000 that reflected on her student financial account.
On the contrary, Cedar Crest President Carmen Ambar is irate over the inaccuracy and misleading data contained in the Newsweek rankings. She expressed her relief, though, that “U.S. News and World Report” recently ranked Cedar Crest as one of the “best values” and one of the “top regional colleges” for the second consecutive year. She proceeded to discredit the authenticity of Newsweek’s “The Daily Beast.”
“‘The Daily Beast’ has done rankings of the ‘druggiest colleges,’ the ‘top party schools,’ and, the one that I am most offended by, is the ‘most beautiful colleges,’ where they take into account the attractiveness of the students on their campus as a context of who is the most beautiful college.”
Ambar expressed, “‘The U.S. News and World Report’ is a more reputable ranking.”
Cedar Crest, according to Ambar, targets a certain dynamic of people. Much of the college’s enrollment consists of either first generation college students or the working middle class.
“They don’t come necessarily from a lot of affluence, where they can contribute a lot of money to their education,” she explained.
Also, Ambar factored in that the most common majors at the college do not typically hold a high starting salary, such as social work or psychology. Cedar Crest is also a women’s college. The gender inequity in our society puts women at an automatic disadvantage when it comes to salaries, since women only make $.76 on every dollar, as opposed to men, according to Ambar.
Ambar does not feel “The Daily Beast” included enough of the important factors about Cedar Crest into their data. For this reason, she fears that the rankings are very misleading to prospective students and parents. She has prepared the college’s marketing and recruiting teams to be able to properly respond to students and parents, should any questions arise about the recently published results.
The frustration that students and parents go through with the financial aid department is something that Ambar understands. The administration will soon be implementing some changes to the department, in hopes to alleviate some of the problems and stress. Financial aid literacy nights, extended office hours, and an E-refund system are some of the things that Ambar hopes will bring positive results.
As some of the students of Cedar Crest continue in their struggle to make ends meet while balancing their grades, the administration hopes to convey its dedication and assistance to these students.
“I am here as the president of this college because I believe in access. I believe that every student, regardless of their financial background, deserves the opportunity to go to a great college,” Ambar said.