It’s never good when you have to break a promise.
It’s even worse when you have to break a promise you’ve made to more than 7,000 students.
Yet, that’s the UW’s dilemma. The Husky Promise program, instituted just over two years ago, is already leaning up against the ropes of the financial boxing ring.
A proposed 60-percent budget cut to the State Need Grant program threatens the future of the Husky Promise and would potentially knock the majority of those 7,000 students out of school.
Seven thousand students is roughly a fourth of the entire undergraduate population. They could fill up every seat in Kane Hall three times over.
That’s a lot of students removed with the signing of a piece of legislation. That’s a lot of dreams plucked from the future and discarded, like perfectly ripe apples we would be forced to throw away.
Something isn’t right about that.
We don’t need to keep the Husky Promise in its current form for new students. It was an ambitious project to start with and one that only became more unfeasible as the economy took a downturn. But neither the UW nor the government in Olympia should do anything to take away what these 7,000 people have built their entire lives around.
To avoid ending up in this kind of financial aid dilemma again, the UW needs to tighten up on its eligibility of the Husky Promise program.
The entire point of the Husky Promise is so that deserving students can receive the education they should be able to receive.
The key word here is “deserving.”
Do you know what grade you can receive and still be considered eligible for the Husky Promise? A 2.0.
Some classes may be difficult for you. Understandable. Maybe you’re not a math person. Maybe you’ve never been good at foreign languages. Some classes are weed-out classes that are designed to be hard. But if you’re free-rolling college on the Husky Promise, you better have a strong enough drive in your classes to at least earn a 3.0 or higher GPA each quarter.
Is it really that much to ask that, if the university is providing you with thousands of dollars, you could show it some extra dedication and respect in return?
Husky Promise money should be for the people who are going to excel in school and shape the future once they leave the university. Every dollar spent on the education of such esteemed individuals is worthwhile. It’s when a Husky Promise student skitters by with a string of 2.0s that you wonder if the UW’s money is being well-utilized.
A system that takes GPA into account has two major benefits.
First, it decreases the number of students on the Husky Promise without having to remove it entirely, in turn freeing up some of the budget.
Second, it provides incentive for students in the program to work harder, ensuring that the people using the UW’s money really want to be there and have a desire to learn. They aren’t just there because they can be, but because they have a passion for learning.
This proposed change may not be enough to entirely tilt the budgetary scales, depending on how many students can keep their GPA up in order to stay in the program. But changes like this can make a significant financial difference to the school while ensuring that the people who deserve the reward of the Husky Promise are still eligible to receive it.
That way, nobody has to break his or her promise.
Reach columnist Gavin Verhey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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