November 17, 2006


Caption: How will this baby box turtle pay for college?

In "Paradise Park," a low budget 1990s film made in El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia, one of the characters says that "Education is the one thing the Man can't take away from you."

Roger that.

A great deal of evidence indicates that access to higher education is the single best way for individuals permanently escape poverty.

According to a press release issued late last month by the Census Bureau:

Adults age 18 and older with a bachelor's degree earned an average of $51,554 in 2004, while those with a high school diploma earned $28,645, according to new tabulations released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Those without a high school diploma earned an average of $19,169.

Unfortunately, public financial aid programs are now covering less and less of the cost for higher ed. The Ecomomic Policy Institute reports that

It is becoming increasingly difficult for students to obtain financial assistance to attend college. Federal grants are covering less of the tuition bill than they used to, forcing students to take on more expensive debt.

The College Board reported that Pell grants, one of the largest sources of federal help for low-income college students, have not kept up with college prices. As the chart below shows, Pell Grants now cover only about a third of the average costs at a four-year public school, compared with 42% in 2001-02 and 57% in 1985-86. The same trends can be seen for four-year private schools, where the grants now cover only 14% of expenses, compared to 26% in 1985-86. The Congress last increased the maximum annual Pell grant in 2003-04, when it was increased by a mere $50 to $4,050. Meanwhile, college costs (average published tuition, fees, and room and board (TFRB) charges) at four-year public colleges are up by about 25% from five years ago.

Students are increasingly forced to resort to loans to pay for college and often enter the workforce already hampered by a heavy load of debt.

An obvious policy conclusion for people who care about a strong domestic economy and shared prosperity would be to increase aid and access so that everyone can get as much education as they can stand.


1 comment:

100Student said...


I recently published an article on the dangers and benefits of student loans and other forms of college financial aid – here is a quote from it, in case you are interested:
Student loans repayment can be a real nightmare without adopting some strategies that would help the new graduates to organize their social and financial life. Here are some strategies they can use to do this:
- An additional part-time job;
- Freelancing is another option (meaning that they can do particular pieces of work for different organisations, without working all the time for a single organisation);
- They should try to keep their living expenses as low as possible (live in a smaller apartment, live with a roommate to share some of the expenses, find an apartment that is closer to the job, to eliminate the extra-expenses for transport etc.);
- To apply for forbearance (this is an immediate solution for hard times when the new graduate is in impossibility to re-pay the amount of money and the need for student loan consolidation becomes apparent; it is a temporary period, when the graduate can postpone or delay his or her re-payments until a later time on a federal or direct loan after the beginning of the re-payment, and when the student doesn’t qualify for deferral). The forbearance must be applied through the lenders of the loans.
- To consolidate the payments.
If you feel this helps, please drop by my website for additional information, such as federal student loans information or additional resources on private student loans .