It's early in the morning, the sun is barely up, and you're standing in a seemingly endless line full of mostly unhappy people, carrying heavy loads. Everyone wants the wait to end, but they all hold some fear as to the outcome. 45 minutes to an hour later, you get to the front of the line. You walk up to the window only to find a an often apathetic, or impatient, and very rarely friendly face who asks for your Id and your reason for visiting. You explain you situation and ask your questions. If your questions are standard, they impolitely answer and hand you paperwork. If your questions are anything out of the norm, you need to wait longer while they find someone who knows. Once you finally finish this exchange, you're usually told you need to do certain things, then return...to wait in line again, and go through the whole ordeal once more. If you're lucky, it's only once more. For many, it's four or five or more times. Once everything is in order, you wait for weeks and hope that these obviously brilliant, well educated...pimply faced teenagers...handle all of your information correctly. By now, your stress level is through the roof. You're angry, frustrated, exhausted and unsure of what your future will hold. And this is only your dealings with financial aid. College has yet to even begin.
In this day and age, very few people, young or old, can afford college outright at the prices charged in America. With so many adults returning to school after their careers went under or laid off employees due to the recession, and so many young people whose parents, though they make what is considered "above poverty" as far as financial aid is concerned, cannot afford to send them, almost everyone needs some sort of financial aid to gain a college education. So why is it, in today's academic world, that financial aid is the most stressful part of most students' college experience?