Equality and equity are not the same thing:
Officials at colleges without anything like Harvard’s $35 billion endowment say a rush to give tuition discounting to the middle and upper middle class at institutions like theirs could end up shifting financial aid from low-income students to wealthier, make pricing seem even more arbitrary and create pressure to raise full tuition to pay for all the assistance.
Donald E. Heller, director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Pennsylvania State University, said that if Harvard’s new aid program encouraged more middle- and upper-middle-income students to apply, then the number of slots for low-income applicants in an entering class would probably decline.
“They’re just going to get crowded out,” Dr. Heller said.
By attempting to be equal to all, equity falls by the wayside. Although $18,000 is greater than zero, if more of these middle-income students apply, who probably went to better school, have better grades and test scores, it won’t matter that college is free for the low-income kids. they won’t even get in. rather than equalizing the playing field, they’ve just moved to another stadium. College pricing shouldn’t be about equality, but rather equity – make it so everyone, regardless of background, has the same opportunity to be something, including a Harvard graduate. that’s gonna require giving more to some and less to others – perhaps inducing grand inequality in college pricing. that’s okay, i think.