College Costs: Reality Bites Again
By Alex Carter
October 24, 2007 - 1:16pm ET
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The College Board this week released its new Trends in Higher Education report, and it shows how our lack of public investment is putting a college education out of reach of working families.
The report examines college costs, financial aid, and the importance of a college education. It notes that while for the 2007-2008 school year tuition increases at four-year colleges are not as high as they have been for the past five years, total federal grant funding for undergraduates has still not caught up, when inflation is taken into account. In fact, the report says, "total federal grant funding to undergraduates was still lower in 2006-07 than it was three years earlier, after adjusting for inflation."
This is happening at the same time legislatures in many states are not appropriating enough funds to cover legitimate increased education costs.
The College Board report makes clear why the College Cost Reduction and Access Act is needed:
- Tuition and fees at public and private universities rose at a rate of more than double the rate of inflation.
- While undergraduate federal borrowing declined from 2005 to 2007, private undergraduate loans grew 12 percent during the same period.
- There is a positive correlation between higher levels of education and higher earnings for all ethnic groups, and graduates are more likely to have employer-provided health and insurance and pension benefits.
The importance of a college education cannot be overstressed. As tuition rates rise and median household incomes decline—median household income for African Americans, for example, has declined 8 percent from 2000 to 2006—college education is needed more than ever in this age of technological advancement.
That is why it is important to support grassroots organizations in the struggle to make college more affordable, such as the Campaign for College Affordability. Critical to the effort to keep college education affordable and accessible is to promote federal loan programs instead of the private loan industry and to hold state legislatures accountable for adequately funding higher education.
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