If the United States wants to get more low-income students into, and graduated from, college, these students are going to need a lot more aid than the federal government currently provides. According to an article by Rachel Gross in the New York Times:
In the current landscape of state budget cuts, financial aid for students has more often been jeopardized rather than augmented. For instance, last year California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended completely phasing out the state’s Cal Grant program, which covers fees for the state’s neediest students. Though the proposal ultimately didn’t pan out, many states have since followed suit by cutting or limiting their financial aid. …Initial enrollment rates for low-income high school graduates have been decreasing steadily, falling from 54 to 40 percent in the time period between 1992 and 2004. The report attributed the decrease to changes family concerns about college expenses and financial aid.
This information comes from a report released Friday by the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, a Department of Education committee that exists to advises Congress and the secretary of education on national education policy.
Declining state funding means that one student attending four years at a public college or university now costs 48 percent of the average low-income family’s annual income.
The Gross article points out that the high (and still rising) cost of college for students makes it unlikely, if not impossible, for the United States to achieve President Obama’s goal of making the United States the country with the most college graduates in the world by 2020.
Read the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance report here.