Upon reading Agatha Advincula’s column about legacy admissions, my first instinct was anger. As the son of immigrants, I grew up with the idea that merit and hard work are the things that should be valued most. When my parents came to this country, they didn’t have money, they didn’t have connections, and they certainly didn’t have Ivy League educations. Their success was predicated on their guts and determination alone. To see those principles so fluidly and easily dismissed made me angry on an innate level.
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At first glance, Penn’s financial aid statistics look pretty good. The Student Financial Services’ fact sheet reveals that 90% of first-generation students receive financial aid. Families with incomes under $75,000 receive full room and board, and families with incomes under $40,000 have the cost of yearly attendance entirely covered by the school. Each year, one hundred percent of “demonstrated” financial need is met, which is no small feat for an institution with over ten thousand students. One could easily assume that this relatively generous financial aid policy would foster socioeconomic diversity.