The free ride

BY BENJAMIN EVANS | MAY 03, 2012 6:30 AM

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OK, let's get a few things straight.

I know we are all up in arms about the ridiculous amount of lard going around: We're all chewing the fat, flapping our gums, making sure everyone can have their just desserts when it comes to tying one off on this campus. As if the weight can hold our lofty arguments — since after all you would have a fat chance of getting drunk anywhere other than one of those hedonistic dens downtown.

But let's not forget the stories that got smothered under the preverbal poundage of a nonsense issue: Like how you and I are being ripped off when it comes to our tuition.

Wait, what?

Yeah, it's happening. Right now, you (the guy who works full-time at Quizno's to pay off your student loans) and you (the kid who didn't get any scholarships because your father made too much money) are both being given the shaft, respectively.

According to the state Board of Regents Office, an average of 20 percent of all tuition paid in 2011 at UI went toward scholarships — both merit and need-based, from both residents and nonresidents.

This means that I, a student who pays full tuition at UI, am paying 24 percent of my money so someone else can get a free lunch and spend her or his time worrying about how to keep her or his scholarship from overlapping (you know exactly who you are).

I have no problem — no problem — with paying for someone who is less fortunate than I to get a higher education. But, see, that's not how it works. Part of that 24 percent is going to help pay for non-need-based scholarships: the people who don't really need the money but get it because they kissed enough butt in high school to get straight As.

In case you can't see, my head is going to explode.

I might be able to be persuaded it's because these individuals worked for it and deserve to be compensated or rewarded. Maybe. But to go on and tell me I can't take the same classes as them — such as presidential seminars that are only open to these "scholars," in which they get unfettered access to President Sally Mason — because I wasn't awarded this prestigious honor?

I'm paying for your college — like hell you are going to treat me like a second-class citizen.

But it's not just me who is paying for these people to get a free ride; it's also those who take out student loans, amounting to some sort of indentured servitude. Students are taking out huge amounts of loans to the tune of around $25,000 per graduating class to pay for their own college, according to an April 2011 regents' report on financial aid.

That means, you know, if logic means anything, by the transitive property of mathematical thought, that 24 percent of student debt is incurred in order to fund someone else's tuition who may have not needed to take out student loans in the first place.

What?! Ben, that doesn't make any sense?!

Take a deep breath, it's been happening for like eight years. Don't worry, you didn't even know about yesterday. It's only thousands of dollars that you will be paying back until you are like 40ish, you know, while the free-rider scholars are backpacking across Norway or something. No big deal, take it easy.

These people are entitled to our money, because they are the best of the best — the future leaders of America — the smiling faces we will see on our layaway television sets.

So next time you meet a scholar, maybe when you are boycotting a bar downtown, give him a slap on the back and ask him to buy you a drink. After all, he owes you at least 24 percent.

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