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October 08, 2008 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-10-08

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4A - Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


711E lici an &3atl
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109




Unsigned editorials refiec the of tcialposition of the Daily's editorial board All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
FAFSA's face-lift
Shortening financial aid form a needed but incomplete fix
Though a graduating high school student has many things to
look forward to about college, filling out the Federal Appli-
cation For Student Aid is probably not one of them. Better
known as FAFSA, this long and confusing form is a necessary evil
for any students who want help covering their skyrocketing tuition.
But starting in 2010, applying for financial aid should get a little eas-
ier after FAFSA is simplified. Trimming the fat off of FAFSA won't
entirely solve the problem, though: The federal government needs a
financial aid application that better reflects students' circumstanc-
es, and universities, including this one, need to end the use of redun-
dant supplemental applications.

Necessary for all kinds of federal finan-
cial aid, FAFSA is a six-page marathon of
unnecessary, jargon-laden financial his-
tory questions that factor into the all-im-
portant "expected family contribution."
According to U.S. Education Secretary
Margaret Spellings all that is supposed to
change after the application is cut from
six to three pages. Spellings hopes these
changes will provide for greater access
to financial aid by encouraging more stu-
dents to fill out the FAFSA.
It's about time. There are dozens of ques-
tions that could be cut. Aside from being
redundant, many of the questions are ones
that students have a difficult time answer-
ing on their own because they are overly
technical. Asking for this information is
unnecessarily confusing for students, par-
ticularly students who don't have parents
helping them and are the ones in greatest
need of aid.
FAFSA's face-lift doesn't address one of
the application's other big problems: Some
questions paint an inaccurate portrait of a
student's financial situation. For example,
FAFSA factors heavily the income level of
a student's parents, even if they are not
making significant contributions to a stu-

dent's tuition. These salary figures mis-
represent the needs of students who may
have well-off parents, but are paying for
college on their own.
Recognizing FAFSA's inadequacies,
many universities have jumped on a dis-
turbing bandwagon: asking students to
fill out supplemental student aid forms as
well. The University of Michigan is one of
these schools, forcing incoming freshmen
to fill out the College Scholarship Search
Financial Aid PROFILE. While allegedly
designed to allow the University to bet-
ter assess students' financial need, this
supplemental form is just confusing and
What's the good in simplifying the
FAFSA if universities just move the redun-
dancy to whole new forms? If a question
is important, it should be on the FAFSA,
which should be as short and convenient
as possible. The University should push
the federal government toward this goal.
Applying for financial aid may never be
a painless process. But the government
and the University have a responsibility
to make it as easy as possible for students
to apply. Asking for just one simple form
shouldn't be too much to ask.

What one hand giveth,
the other hand taketh away."
- Barack Obama, commenting on how John McCain's proposed $5,000 tax credit for health insurance
would be taxable and therefore ineffective during yesterday's presidential debate.
Ha._....,rp_.,~__... ... . C a m p a ig n in g fo riu stic e
W hen Michigan voters go to it what it really needs: independence. a lot of money - money that is poorly
the polls next month, bur- Take, for starters, how future Super tracked and comes from the coffers
ied deep in the ballot will Friends make their way into the Hall of the same powerful people that
be a difficult choice: of Justice. Though the ballot makes it often appear before the court. Some
Clifford Taylor or look like Supreme Court candidates experts expect that this year's election
Diane Hathaway. are plucked from some alternate, non- between Taylor and Hathaway will
I say "difficult" partisan universe, the truth is that end up costing more than $20 rillion
not because these they are party hacks like ordinary - almost the same amount spent on
are two evenly politicians, just with a little legal back- every Michigan Supreme Court elec-
matched candi- ground. Hathaway is a Democrat who tion since 2000.
dates or because the has been a Wayne County Circuit since More troubling, Michigan has lax
position they are 1993. Taylor is a Republican and the recusal standards, so justices sit on
vying for is going court's current chief justice, having many cases they shouldn't. A report
to be dramatically GARY started his first full eight-year term by the National Institute on Money in
changed by either of GRACA in 2000 and his tenure as chief justice State Politics found that more than 86
these two. in 2005. Both had to be nominated at percent of cases decided by the Michi-
I say "difficult" their respective party's conventions gan Supreme Court during the 1990's
because most voters - a process that weeds out those can-
are going to have no idea what they're didates who don't sufficiently toe the
getting into with either of these can- party line.
didates. According to Michigan law, And then the campaign begins. The M ichigan judges
neither is allowed to disclose the deci- thing is, by law, judicial candidates
sions that candidate expects to make aren't really allowed to tell you much and their crooked
if elected. Neither will appear with a because they can't disclose their posi-
ubiquitous "R" or "D" next to that per- tions on issues. So, instead, everyone campaigns.
son's name (though Taylor will have an runs on buzzwords. According to Tay-
"I" for "incumbent" next to his). And lor's website, voters have a pretty obvi-
most importantly, both will be allowed ous choice come November: "preserve
to collect millions of dollars in cam- what "The Wall Street Journal" calls, had at least one party that had contrib-
paignfunds from the very same people the "finest court in the nation" by re- uted to at least one justice's campaign.
they'll be charged with keeping an eye electing Chief Justice Cliff Taylor ... Whether this actually influences deci-
on if elected. or return Michigan to an unsavory era sions is questionable, but certainly the
In case you haven't figured it out by of Jackpot Justice and a frightening perception of impropriety is there -
now, Taylor and Hathaway are run- lottery of lawsuit abuse by electing a and a court's legitimacyis built onhow
ning for a seat on Michigan's Supreme friend of the personal injury lawyers." fair people perceive it to be.
Court - an institution that isn't Mich- That's only the official campaign, So what do we do? A public finance
igan's third branch of government though. The real campaign is run in system for judicial elections is a good
so much as it is its disrespected third the shadows by "independent," third- start. Disclosure is another big part.
wheel. Partisanship bitterly divides party organizations. In 2006, for And ending the partisan nomination
the court. The justices are unprofes- instance, independent groups paid for process is a third thing.
sional. And almost every decision is 87 percent of all television ads about But neither Democrats nor Repub-
called into question by the corrupting Michigan's Supreme Court elections, licans want to risk their shot at con-
stream of money that flows into jus- according to the Justice at Stake Cam- trolling the court. So we are left each
tices' campaigns from the same busi- paign. And that mightnot be a big deal, election choosing between two candi-
nesses, attorneys and organizations except Michigan doesn't have disclo- dates we can't judge with any certainty.
being heard before the court. sure requirements for these issue ads This year, I'm leaning toward Jack-
Michigan's Hall of Justice is in bad - so basically you can say anything pot Justice.
need of reform. But it doesn't look like about a candidate, slap a high-minded
state Democrats and Republicans, bent sounding name on it like "Citizens for Gary Graca is the Daily's editorial

on finding new ways to turn the court Judicial Fairness" and call it a day. page editor. H e can be reached
into their pawn, are interested ingiving Both aspects of the campaign cost at gmgraca@umich.edu.
Single-issue syndrome
We've allbeenhearingconstantupdates about the voter the easy way out. Voters don't have to think about how
registration efforts on campus. Unfortunately, there's other issues will affect their lives if they make up their
been a lot less coverage of the issues on which we're sup- minds based on one stance. They simply have to decide
posed to be voting. As the election nears, I've noticed which candidate they agree with on the "most important"
more and more groups that focus on a single issue fight- issue. Havingto weigh the nuances of candidates' opinions
ing to make their voices heard on campus. These groups may be difficult, but it is necessary in order to fully under-
don't just aim to get students to vote, they get students to stand who and what we are voting for. By going through
vote based on a specific issue. But as we come closer and this process, voters aren't just paying better attention to
closer to the election, students should be focusing on all the issues, but also more attention to the candidates.
the issues, not just one they consider most important. There are lots of groups on campus that try to educate
Many of these single-issue groups are genuinely bipar- students on the issues. However, there is a difference
tisan and simply ask students to vote be single minded between talking about an issue and trying to get students
with their vote. Power Vote, for example, is an organiza- to forget about everything other than that issue. Most of
tion that wants students to vote for whomever they feel these groups, whether intentionally or not, are continuing
will promote the best energy and climate policies. Most the cycle of single-issue voting. There is a lastingmentality
other groups, however, takea definitive stand on an issue. that. accompanies such a voting process. Political groups
Students for Proposal One has taken a firm stance on the can avoid encouraging single-issue voting by providing
legalization of medical marijuana - beyond just wanting unbiased information about a topic rather than telling stu-
students to care about this issue, they want students to dents for whom they should vote in the election.
vote in favor of it. The University strives to create well-rounded students.
While individual issues likeballot proposals are impor- That doesn't just mean taking an art class and a math
tant, no one should be voting for a candidate based on an class. This extends to caring about all the issues in the
individual issue alone. This election involves a host of election, even the ones that aren't getting constant atten-
candidates and dozens of issues - from taxes and health tion from campus political groups. Being awell-informed
care to alternative energy and the war in Iraq. Mentally voter means carefully considering all the fine points of a
blocking out the other issues after deciding on just one is candidate's platform. Everyelection issue might not apply
illogical. The other issues are still important and relevant to today's college student. But ignoring them now puts us
to our lives. We all listen to other bands besides our favor- in a single-issue state of mind that will impact our future
ite - we shouldn't hold ourselves to different standards successes.
on election issues just because it's more convenient.
Maybe that's why single-issue voting is so popular: It's Shannon Keilman is an LSA senior.
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be less than 300 words and must
include the writer's full name and University affiliation. All submissions become property of the Daily.
We do not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedoily@umich.edu.

Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca, Satyajeet Deshmukh,
Brian Flaherty, Matthew Green, Emmarie Huetteman, Emma Jeszke, Shannon Kellman,
Edward McPhee, Emily Michels, Kate Peabody, Matthew Shutler, Robert Soave, Eileen Stahl,
Jennifer Sussex, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Margaret Young

Both Obama andMcCain in
energy companies'pockets

a real solution to
Also discusse
candidates' "aggr
tive energy. Both
ises to set less-tI

TO THE DAILY: will surely be d
It was evident from both dueling viewpoints The fact of the:
about energy and environment by the Col- free energy right
lege Democrats and Republicans that there the entire world
are many common misconceptions about how from alternate so
we can effectively deal with these issues (An gy Department f
aggressive approach to energy and Quick relief, entire country v
long-term solutions, 10/07/2008). Common wind farms in on
to both these viewpoints was the belief that is wind power al
cutting back on carbon dioxide will somehow power or geother
impede climate change. And when we
First of all, carbon dioxide from both man- save with this p
made and natural sources contributes to only these technologi
3.62 percent of the total greenhouse effect. With the right p:
Humans only contribute 3.225 percent of the could happen. TI
carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, is the need of th
meaning that humans only increase the total be dependent on t
greenhouse effect by slightly more than 0.1 forget, both cant
percent. porations, includ
Carbon is not the issue here. Giving taxpay-
er's money to companies and people who cut Joe Sicheneder
down on carbon is only a diversion from finding LSA sophomore

our environmental problems.
d in the viewpoints were the
ressive" strategies for alterna-
candidates have made prom-
han-impressive deadlines that
delayed or forgotten anyway.
matter is that we could have
now. In fact, we could supply
with clean, renewable energy
urces. In 2007, the U.S. Ener-
ound that we could supply the
ith power using well-placed
ly three of our 50 states. That
one. That doesn't include solar
realize how much money we
lentiful power, we can build
ies in the rest of the world.
resident, the right leader, this
he only thing holding us back
e energy companies for us to
their product. And lest anyone
didates are sponsored by cor-
ing energy companies.





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