Sunday, March 9, 2014

Data show poorer families are bearing the brunt of college price hikes | Hechinger Report

Data show poorer families are bearing the brunt of college price hikes | Hechinger Report:

Data show poorer families are bearing the brunt of college price hikes

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America’s colleges and universities are quietly shifting the burden of their big tuition increases onto low-income students, while many higher-income families are seeing their college costs rise more slowly, or even fall, an analysis of federal data shows.
It’s a trend financial-aid experts and some university administrators worry will further widen the gap between the nation’s rich and poor as college degrees—especially four-year ones—drift beyond the economic reach of growing numbers of students.
“We’re just exacerbating the income inequalities and educational achievement gaps,” said Deborah Santiago, co-founder and vice president of Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit group that advocates for Latino and other students.
The shift also runs contrary to an Obama administration push to make a college degree more affordable for low-income students. At a White House summit in January, college leaders and others promised to find ways to make degrees more affordable for the less affluent.


This project was produced by The Hechinger Report, the Education Writers Association, and the Dallas Morning News.
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In fact, lower-income and working-class students at private colleges and universities have seen the amount they pay, after grants and scholarships, increase faster than the amount their middle- and upper-income classmates pay, according to an analysis of data that institutions are required to report to the U.S. Department of Education.
The net price—the total annual cost of tuition, fees, room, board, books and other expenses, minus federal, state, and institutiona

College, federal financial aid increasingly benefits the rich
It’s not just colleges and universities that are shifting their financial aid from lower-income to higher-income students. Tuition tax credits and other tax breaks to offset the cost of higher education—nearly invisible federal government subsidies for families that send their kids to college—also disproportionally benefit more affluent Americans. So do tax-deductible savings plans and the federal
How some families pay less for college than others
The sticker price at Pennsylvania State University runs about $30,000 a year for in-state students. At Swarthmore College, it’s nearly twice that. Yet Swarthmore ends up being cheaper for most students. That’s because this private liberal-arts college near Philadelphia offers many families a hefty discount, bringing down the average cost to even less than taxpayer-subsidized Penn State’s. This kin