The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

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Part 5: Analyzing a material culture


Editor-in-Chief Ananya Prakash Media Director Quinn Whitman

Analyzing a Material Culture is a five-part special report on socioeconomic class at ASL and its implications. The report examines classism’s presence at ASL and how it impacts students and the assumptions they have.

Part 5:

Associate Dean of Admissions Ken Craig believes that students’ varying backgrounds provide unique differentiation in how tuition is paid. With the school’s high tuition costs, Craig has seen that many families have companies paying for the fees, or are families working in embassies and have their fees paid through that role. Although there are still families who pay tuition independently, Craig believes ASL “is out of reach for a lot of local families.”

Craig explained that the financial aid program is a needs-based program that families have to apply for. Currently, approximately 11 percent of students are receiving financial aid, which is around 140 students throughout the school. The extent of financial aid, however, differs significantly depending on the family. “We have some families that receive grants that cover 90 percent plus of tuition costs, and then there are some families that are maybe 10 percent,” he said.

The financial aid department has worked with these families to support the cost of various things ranging from lunches to trips abroad, to sports team gear.

Craig recognizes that the team gear that athletes are expected to purchase is something that has a great socio-economic impact on some students. “There [is] a culture where it was just kind of assumed that everybody could afford the fancy t-shirt or sweatshirt and jacket,” Craig said. “There has been an effort to not just assume that’s an easy thing for everyone to buy and to systematically keep those costs under control to some extent.”

To ensure students don’t feel the financial strain of purchasing athletic gear, Craig is working with the athletics department to institute a policy where a student wouldn’t be asked to spend more than £35 on team gear.

Despite the efforts in increasing financial aid opportunities, McGowan has noticed that there appears to be a stigma surrounding the subject as he has never heard it being brought up in conversation. “I’ve never heard high school students talk about [financial aid], I cannot think of a single time. It has not come up in academic classes and it hasn’t come up in any discussions I’ve had with students,” McGowan said. “In my experience, it’s all kept under the surface.”

In an effort to be more open in discussing financial aid, Lancaster believes there needs to be greater awareness and visibility of the financial aid program. “I think it would keep everyone at ASL grounded,” she said. “We’re so gifted with so many things and we get everything brought to our feet.” Ultimately, Lancaster recognizes the importance for everyone to acknowledge that students are coming from various socioeconomic backgrounds and that there is no one universal experience at ASL.

Graphic by Quinn Whitman

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