Financial Aid

(January 2001)  In describing Skaneateles, I often feel the need to tell people that not everyone here is rich, but the wealth of the community does occasionally make itself apparent.

Last week, my wife and I attended a presentation in the high school auditorium for parents of college-bound juniors and seniors interested in obtaining financial aid. That would certainly be us.

Things were moving along in a middle-class sort of a way until the speaker drew our attention to the yellow chart, the one with assets across the top and income down the left margin, with corresponding amounts that colleges will expect you to pay. The chart ended at $125,000 in income and $80,000 in assets; if you had that going for you, you were expected to pay $22,000 a year, and that covers most colleges. But one gentleman raised his hand and said, “Is this chart extendable?” He seemed peeved that he’d been left off, and wanted us all to know it. The speaker was polite, and explained that most schools didn’t offer financial aid to people who were off the chart.

Another couple raised their hands and said, “What if the student has his own investment portfolio?” The speaker said, “That will count,” and they seemed stunned by the news.

“How about a house?” someone else called out. “A house?” the speaker said. “His grandparents gave it to him,” they explained. “That’s going to count too,” the speaker said, and in the ensuing silence, you could feel their pain.

The speaker went on to say that he’d once had a medical student in his office seeking aid, a young man with over $1 million in assets. “It’s for my retirement,” the lad said.

I went home feeling much more eligible for assistance.

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