When Obstacles Snowball for Low-Income Students

A student at a Massachusetts private college learns midway through a semester that his financial aid is less than he expected. Since he can’t afford the difference, the college embargoes his transcript for that term and his grades from the previous two years — even though he’d already paid for those — preventing him from transferring to another institution willing to charge him less.

At a public university in Minnesota, students in similar situations lose their meal plans halfway through a semester, are slapped with a $50 surcharge that makes it even more unlikely they’ll be able to pay what they owe, and are barred from registering for any more classes until they do. To eat, some rely on local food banks.

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