NASFAA Mention: Smartphones for All Students: An Academic Equalizer in an Era of Income Inequality?

"As social inequality on American college campuses continues to spark debate, the fast-growing use of smartphone technology is raising new questions about the divide between poor and affluent students: Should all students have smartphones, whether or not they can afford them? Have smartphones become as important to student success as food and housing? Would having smartphones help low-income students be more academically successful?" Inside Higher Ed reports. 

"Sara Goldrick-Rab, a Temple University professor known for her work addressing socioeconomic inequalities in higher education, set off a conversation about the necessity of smartphones in higher ed last weekend when she fired back at a Twitter comment suggesting that students wouldn't go hungry if they spent less money on expensive phones.

'I would love to see anyone attempt college these days without a functioning cell,' Goldrick-Rab tweeted. For the many students who can't afford a computer, smartphones have become an essential work tool, she said. And they don't have to cost $1,200, as one commentator suggested.

Goldrick-Rab noted that not every student can afford a smartphone, but many have long been using them in place of more expensive computers.

'I think people think phones are just for music or videos,' she said. But there is an enormous amount of work that colleges are asking students to do online, such as responding to emails, checking the learning management system and marking class attendance.

'Unless you're chained to your computer, you won't be connected to college the way you're supposed to be' without a smartphone, she said.

... Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said many colleges do consider the cost of digital devices when calculating the cost of attendance for students but may not specifically budget for smartphones.

'The cost of attendance would include not just books, supplies, transportation, room and board, it also includes any reasonable amount, determined by the school, for rental or purchase of computer equipment,' he said.

There isn’t data on whether smartphones are typically considered computer equipment by colleges, said Draeger, 'but smartphones are getting more and more like computers, so I’d certainly consider that a justifiable expense.'"

NASFAA's "Notable Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 12/5/2018

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