College for Some

Which colleges serve low-income students well? Apparently not very many.

According to an article by Daniel de Vise in the Washington Post:

Low-income families received an average of $9,704 in grant aid in 2007, leaving an unmet need of $11,352. That’s about three-quarters of their total income. The analysis found 275 colleges that require their neediest students to pay more than their total family income to attend.

The report, by the Education Trust, found only five colleges in the United States that offer sufficient aid, have graduation rates higher than 50 percent, and actually enroll a significant number of students from poor families. De Vise explains:

Harvard and Princeton universities, for example, charge only $2,000 or $3,000 in tuition, fees and living expenses to their neediest students — but relatively small numbers of needy students attend those schools. At each of the five schools cited by EdTrust, at least 30 percent of students are disadvantaged. The five: University of North Carolina at Greensboro, CUNY Queens College, CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College, Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Long Beach.

There are no flagship public universities or private colleges (or historically black schools) at all on the list.

The report looked at the amount students actually have to pay to attend these schools. Ed Trust determined affordability based on the sticker price minus grants given to poor students.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer