Most public universities are no longer affordable for low-income students, writes Carrie Warick, leaving few financially safe options for applicants.
When signing up to colleges, students are commonly told to include a “safety school” to make certain they truly are accepted to a minumum of one institution. For low-income students, such as those who receive advising from college access programs like members of the National College Access Network, they even need a different type of a safety school: a financial someone to that they are not just accepted but also are reasonably sure they are able to afford.
As parents’ concerns about college costs surpass even their worries about having enough money for retirement, whether an inexpensive college option exists — particularly for low-income students — is a question that is crucial. To answer it, NCAN designed an affordability measure to see whether a low-income student can reasonably be prepared to successfully piece together every one of the possible sources for funding a four-year degree in today’s public higher education system.
Why, specifically, a degree that is four-year? Given that it’s the path that is surest into the middle class for low-income students and students of color. And why examine public institutions in particular? Since they were founded to serve all students in their state. Their missions derive from ensuring access. At the minimum, low-income students need just one affordable college option.
But unfortunately, only 25 percent of public, four-year residential institutions are affordable for the average first-time, full-time Pell Grant recipient that is working in a minimum-wage job. Read more