UM’s plans to meet all financial need for admitted Florida students is a step in the right direction

There are many things we love about the illustrious University of Miami, but we’re also constantly talking about ways we can improve our school.

Upon the heels of our drop in ranking on U.S. News and World Report’s list of top universities, we know the administration is paying close attention to areas that need work. When it comes to housing, the building of the new Lakeside Village and eventually, the Centennial Village signals a push into the elite as we build new modern and sustainable dorms.

For a while, the university has stayed stagnant on financial aid which proves to be a huge problem for most students at UM. However, with the announcement that they will meet all “demonstrated financial need” of all Florida residents admitted into the school, UM seems to be slowly remedying students’ concerns.

The plan, called “UM Within Reach,” will support all Florida residents who receive federal aid and is set to launch with the incoming fall 2020 class. The full cost of attendance at UM ranges from $62,000 to $74,000, and it is a range many of us know too well from analyzing our financial aid packages.

The new plan will allow the university to recruit more local students and solidify its social ties with the greater Miami community. Because we are tucked away down here in Coral Gables, it’s easy to feel isolated from surrounding communities. Many Miami natives opt to apply for other Florida colleges because other than football, they don’t have many ties to our university. The high cost doesn’t do much to entice students either. Though students, organizations and different branches of the university do plenty of outreach, financial support for Florida students will help plenty.

And this change won’t just help lower-income students. We’re a university that prides itself on diversity, but true diversity is about more than race and ethnicity— it’s about supporting a variety of backgrounds and experiences, including those informed by socio-economic status. Therefore, making UM more accessible will enrich our campus culture and lead to an enhanced learning environment for everyone.

Hopefully, the change will also have an impact on our reputation as a “boujee” school. UM is known for having wealthy students who can afford to pay the hefty tuition price tag, and a 2017 New York Times analysis found that at UM, more than a third of students come from the top five percent of the wealthiest households nationally. These statistics can be intimidating for lower-income students, so this added help will allow them to feel like they have a chance to get the full UM experience.

Rather than the wealth of its students, we’d rather UM be known for its community’s academic programs and accomplishments. Meeting students’ financial needs will help dispel the myth that at all UM students are rich and shift the focus back to what’s important: the achievements of our student body.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.