According to a poll done by Public Agenda, 69 percent of Americans think that too many people who are qualified to attend college do not receive a chance to attend due to financial constraints. Is the perception that college is too expensive rooted in reality? Thomas Kepple, president of Juniata College, explains:
Do you agree that too many students who are qualified to attend college are unable to do so?
No, where are they? There is a process to think about college. People who think about the application process get in and go. Some are dissuaded by the cost, but not many. There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 colleges and universities in this country, so there are many opportunities. Those 69 percent are fairly uninformed; [the organization who conducted the survey] should have instead asked people if they know someone who can’t go.
How does Juniata fit into this issue? Does the admissions board feel it is a problem?
We fit into the issue in the sense that we try to find ways to help students who are good academically to come here with a combination of state aid, federal aid, Juniata aid, family contribution, and probably a loan of some sort.
What exactly does Juniata College offer to make itself affordable to qualified students?
Juniata offers a financial aid package that is as generous as possible. Not every student is willing to borrow money or has family funds, but we are not the only institution in the country. [Students who are unwilling to borrow money or contribute family funds] might not be able to come here, but there are options elsewhere.
Do you think that the perception of college as being too expensive will increase?
Good question. When people look at the list price, Juniata College is about $42,000, the question is, are they willing to dig down and see if it is affordable. I think the real issue is that the population needs to be informed on available aid. High school counselors, parents, and students need to use available resources such as Web sites and books to gain information on financial aid. People who are motivated to go to college will find a way; that does not mean it is easy, but there are resources that almost anybody can use to go to college.
-Aaron Adams ’12, Juniata Online Journalist