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College Increasingly Unaffordable Even as Federal Aid Increases

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College should be the best four years of your life. Because over the course of the remaining years…You. Are. Screwed.

The AP reports that in-state tuition and fees this fall “rose 7.9 percent, or $555, to $7,605…The average sticker price at private nonprofit colleges increased 4.5 percent, or $1,164, to $27,293.”

Adjusted for inflation, that’s “6.6 percent at public four-year colleges and 3.2 percent at private ones.”

This is at a time when family income has not risen for 90% of Americans, according to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Still, government aid has helped to keep students in school. In 2009-10, close to 8 million students received almost $30 billion in Pell Grants. That’s up from $20 billion the year before.

The Obama administration’s restructuring of federal loan programs will continue to ease the pain for students, even as the maximum Pell grant covers only 34% of attending a public university.

Meanwhile, the statistics surrounding the net benefit from a college education remain staggering.

In "Passing The Torch," by Paul Attewell and David E. Lavin, the multiplier effect of a college education is shown to be all but transformative.

Jay Mathews, writing for the Washington Post summarizes that: “Attewell and Lavin looked at 13,338 women whose admission to a four-year college or to a community college was made possible by opening up the city university system between 1970 and 1972. In the year 2000 that group made $102.6 million--an average bonus of $7,692 per person--more than researchers calculated they would have made if they had not been given a chance at college. That extra money was not only a benefit to them, but to the local economies where they spent it.”
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