Visual Argument Analysis

FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a blessing and an issue amongst parents, families, and students. For many, FAFSA helps out lower-class families get aid for their children for college. On the other hand, many middle-class families don’t receive aid, when they actually need it.

With the rise of memes on social media and relatable content created by users on media platforms, many people make jokes about FAFSA through memes and tweets such as:

Memes and tweets create an effective visual medium because they are relatable to specific audiences, depending on what is featured in it. Many of them use current pop culture references or relatable content. While memes and tweets do make fun of topics, they appeal to truth softly hidden with comedy.

Although memes and tweets are short and can be ambiguous, they do portray and create an effect that can be perceived differently for everyone. The main goal of these is to get a message across without being too forward or writing a full article on the topic. They are subtle, yet effective.

In the memes and tweet above, the audience is parents, students, and the overall general public that’s concerned with federal aid. They are short and contain few words, but people are able to perceive an issue regarding FAFSA and federal aid.

Between these three images, they are posted on different platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Google or blogs. They all relate and target FAFSA, but discuss different aspects of the issue. The first one discusses the issue of not receiving enough aid, while the second one discusses the issue of intrinsic value goods or necessities. The third one describes the overall feeling middle-class families have towards FAFSA. Although they address different aspects of the issues, they are similar because they relate to the overall issue.

In the first one, there is an image of a dollar bill with a witty caption written above. The dollar bill is a satirical representation of the amount that FAFSA grants to students; meaning although they can be generous and give certain sums of money, it is not enough to get through college. This meme shows both FAFSA’s and the student’s or family’s opinions on aid. The caption is depicting that FAFSA gets annoyed or irritated when people complain about not getting money or not getting enough, but is counteracted with the photo of the dollar bill.

In the third one, behind the typeface is a photo of a girl crying. This shows the emotional side of the issue, and that it truly affects people that struggle with it. The words bring meaning to the image behind them with subtle comedy. Although all these visual mediums are supposed to be funny and comical, there is emotion behind them and a reason they are posted on social media platforms. They are posted to send the message that federal aid affects more people than just those who truly are in need. While it is important to support these individuals, the government needs to look at every aspect of people’s financial situations.

While FAFSA does help some families, they don’t take every aspect of people’s lives into account. For example, a family with two parents could make a combined salary of $90,000 per year, but not be able to afford a private college like TCU with a tuition of $50,000 per year. Because they are not considered “in need” they will not receive little or no aid. This is a rising issue in the educational system in America because students want to attend college in order to get a degree to obtain a good job post graduation, but can’t receive aid and are forced to take out thousands of dollars in student loans.

Another component of FAFSA is the EFC, or Estimated Family Contribution. This appeals to the second tweet. Although individuals can make above a certain amount and pay for a luxury good such as a new laptop for their child, that doesn’t mean they can afford to give away half of their yearly income to pay for their child’s education. Although some can, most middle-class families cannot afford to live on $40,000 after paying $50,000 to their child’s institution. There are also extenuating circumstances that can circulate a family’s income such as medical emergencies, bills, and debt. The majority of Americans have large amounts of student loan debt, and that can impede the ability to pay for other necessities.

Overall, visual mediums such as memes can relay a message of a relatable, tough topic in a comical way that can appeal to various audiences.