In the past 24 hours, news broke about how numerous wealthy families of industry and movie stars bribed prestigious colleges, such as Yale, Georgetown and Stanford, in admitting their children into those schools. This is the largest admissions scandal in higher education in years, and it involved fraud in the form of cheating on the SATs and ACTs, bribing coaches of the schools for “guarantees of admission” and lying to admissions boards about their skills and disabilities.
The nearly $6.5 million “guarantee” bribes have many low-income and middle class college students and students of color to debate why this happened and how far up it goes.
While wealthy families buying their way into prestigious colleges has been an open secret of years, the 50 indictments issued by the FBI Tuesday morning blew the whole story wide open, and with actresses Lori Loughlin, of “Full House,” and Felicity Huffman, of “Desperate Housewives,” facing federal charges, the idea of tackling family legacies at elite colleges could finally be addressed out in the open.
However, the wealthy buying their way into prestigious colleges is nothing new in American life. Since the country’s founding, many wealthy families and families of influence have always pulled their strings and signed their checkbooks to either guarantee their children an even wealthier future or solidify their legacy in business, politics and technology.
The unfortunate thing about this story is the fact that many of these families who’ve been indicted will likely get off scott free or pay a huge fine or issue some half baked apology. While the apologies from the colleges are already swarming in on social media and press releases, it doesn’t negate what these schools were complacent in.
Although there haven’t been any allegations or direct proof that these schools favored wealthy students over lower-income students and students of color, these indictments, unfortunately, reinforce the idea of wealthy white children being accepted into prestigious colleges and not have to worry about mounting pressure to repay student debt, much like low-income students and students of color have to when they graduate.
Nonetheless, there still remains backlash from both the colleges and the wealthy elite who funded these schemes. Just as the story broke, ProPublica and the Guardian published a story about how Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, and his father may have bribed their way into Harvard the same way the 50 indicted individuals did.
What baffles me as both a student from a low-income household and an outside observer, is the fact that the federal government takes issue with wealthy students bribing their way into college, while the federal government itself continues to profit off of student debt across the country.
If the federal government wants to make the higher education system fair in regards to admissions, then they should implement regulations in regards to legacy members for these elite schools. If that doesn’t work, then they should make the interest rate for federal student loans lower. Whatever rules that’ll be created or enforced, here’s hoping that enough of Hollywood is indicted to the point where they have to pay for some student debt from poor students. I’m praying that it’ll be me!
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