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With college tuitions continuing to rise and American families in shaky economic condition, students need more help than ever paying for college. But that's not what entering frosh are encountering, according to "The American Freshman: National Norms 2011," a national survey run out of UCLA. In fact, as the graph above shows, the percentage of students receiving financial aid in the form of grants or scholarships they won't need to repay dropped by nearly four points from 2010 to 2011. Not only did the percentage receiving this aid drop, but the percentage receiving $10,000 or more in grants or scholarships also dropped.

Fewer students were able to contribute their own savings or income to pay for college, as well—not surprising when you remember that last summer saw record high levels of unemployment among young people.

While the percentage of students receiving loans dropped slightly from 2010 to 2011, it has increased by nearly 8 points over the past decade, and the percentage who expected to borrow $10,000 or more to finance their first year of college had more than doubled in that time. Not a surprise, given the historic levels of total student indebtedness the U.S. hit in 2011.

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Comment Preferences

  •  SOTU misfire on education (4+ / 0-)

    This was the one area that struck me as a wrong in Obama's SOTU address.  Declining federal and state support for higher education is the major contributor to rising college costs.  Rising costs make middle class access to higher education ever more tenuous, and burden those students who can still squeek in with extraordinarily high student loan debt.  Obama should have taken the opportunity to recast the discussion as reversing the privatisation of public education, rather than casting universities and colleges as the source of rampant tuition inflation.  

  •  I've applied for and been passed on dozens (4+ / 0-)

    of scholarships, and financial aid keeps getting thinner and thinner every year. I'm waiting for the point when I put in my FAFSA and they send me back an email simply titled "LOL."

  •  Not to mention disappearing scholarships. My (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    daughter, who is a college junior, won an academic scholarship funded by the State of Texas.  The well ran dry and they sent a letter telling her they would not fulfill the scholarship for her final 3 semesters.

    Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day. Harry Truman

    by temptxan on Thu Jan 26, 2012 at 01:49:26 PM PST

  •  The colleges need changes (0+ / 0-)

    Yes, government support as waned greatly. However, that cost has been passed over to students who then need loans to finish coursework. However, the bigger problem is the colleges themselves.

    The public and state colleges need to retrofit their systems to the 21st century. For one, instead of cutting courses that people need, courses should be put online. The professors might not like that because it means some of them need to be let go but it's time for them to live in reality. What's more important students or professors holding on to jobs? It's time for institutions to look at the technologies of today to educate. This in turn will increase efficiency, accomplish the goals of students and save needed dollars. Also, there should be a harder look at administrative costs.

    Now some of you may say that this is a false choice? No, it isn't. In a time when everyone has been asked to cut - and be more efficient - colleges and universities need to follow. The times when the government can fund everything is unfortunately over.

    •  You're right on one point, but wrong wrong (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      wrong on several others.

      Administrative costs are a major issue -- they've risen for a generation or more as more layers of administrators are put in and they're paid more and given more discretion over university budgets (ie given more slush funds).

      But online education? You want to cut costs by putting students into a completely unproven educational model relying on low-wage, contingent labor?  Let's pretend for a moment -- and this is a huge stretch of the imagination -- that having lectures and whatever else online is as good as being in a classroom and having at least some small chance of in-person interaction. Who's grading your papers, or are you doing multiple choice work? If you want to go to grad school, are you going to be able to get a recommendation from the low-paid person who never saw your face, was teaching too many students to remember them all, and may not even any longer have an email address with the school you went to for you to write them at and ask for the letter?

      Just as we so often hear people buying into Chris Christie and Scott Walker's line that we should think public workers who have benefits and pensions have too much and should have less, you're buying into a race to the bottom for education. Given that a college education today is roughly as important to getting and keeping a job on which you can support a family as a high school education was a few generations ago, why don't we instead say that public higher education should be free for all, and supported fully by the government? That it should be a place where real skills and learning are developed rather than a virtual place where you sit at a computer and check boxes so you can say you have a degree, regardless of whether you've had a meaningful education?

      Think bigger and turn away from the race to the bottom.

    •  Technologys of today to educate...or entertain? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FarWestGirl, Laura Clawson

      I'm a professor, and what many students want in their education isn't education, but Edutainement. Yes, not to actually learn a difficult concept, but to be entertained. Zeus forbid that a student might have to not go out and party in order to get their reading done.

      So sitting at their PC, doing a thousand other things, there is little learning, just time being taken up. It's bad enough in my classroom with the on-line distractions during class, I can't even fathom how bad it would be at home.

      And this comment really pisses me off

      What's more important students or professors holding on to jobs?

      Really? Is this a zero sum game? Do you REALLY look at professors as a commodity, that is easy to replace with the next one in? Really? Do you want your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, etc, trained by the least expensive professor out there?

      WTF!?!?!?! When did I move to the Republic of Gilead?!

      by IARXPHD on Thu Jan 26, 2012 at 02:25:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And "waned greatly" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FarWestGirl, Laura Clawson

      How about totally gutted? My alma mater has gone from 80% state funding in 1982 to 28% funding in 2012. So now they have to increase tuition to ridiculous levels as well as have an army of faculty who do little but chase down big grants to fund the adjuncts and grad students who teach students.

      WTF!?!?!?! When did I move to the Republic of Gilead?!

      by IARXPHD on Thu Jan 26, 2012 at 02:28:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Really this depends on your model of education (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FarWestGirl, Laura Clawson

      If you want critical thinking students capable of rationally discussing and breaking down a subject, you need to do the hard work of closely educating students.  If all you need do is enable kids to pass a test and regurgitate some facts, then internet-based education is fine.  Admittedly there is a role for both, and some subjects more readily lend themselves to an internet-based model.  But, there really is not a substitute for close, intensive, education with a small number of students interacting with teachers and professors.  

      After all, it's just our cultural heritage and economic future at stake.  No real reason to see it as an investment rather than a cost.  /snark

  •  My "Expected Family Contribution" for 2 kids (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FarWestGirl, VClib

    in college was almost 60% of our take home pay. Hillarious!

    WTF!?!?!?! When did I move to the Republic of Gilead?!

    by IARXPHD on Thu Jan 26, 2012 at 02:14:20 PM PST

  •  I want to make two points. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IARXPHD, FarWestGirl, VClib

    First, the federal formula that estimates what a family can "afford" to pay for college tuition is almost laughable.  Ask any family about the estimated family contribution, or "EFC," and they will tell you.  Basically, the feds estimate what it takes your family to live, and assumes that you can contribute everything else, plus at least one-quarter of your savings, to college tuition (a bit of an oversimplification, but you get the idea).  Families that are what I would call "upper middle class" (say, two incomes totaling $85,000 - $200,000) really get screwed; the EFC means that not only are there few non-repayable grants, but there also is very little in the way of low-interest student loans).  Such a family (especially at the higher end of that) is expected to pay anywhere from $40,000 to as much as $60,000 a year (tuition, fees, room and board at a private university) in after-tax dollars.  

    Second, I can use this opportunity to sign the praises of my state, Louisiana, in at least one area -- college opportunity.  Basically, due to the generosity and initiative of (yes) oilman Pat Taylor, Louisiana has the Taylor Opportunity Program ("TOPS").  Under "TOPS," if you graduate with a 2.5 in core subjects, and have a 20 on the ACT, you can attend a Louisiana state university tuition (one of the smaller ones) tuition free.  Higher grades/ACT scores get you into LSU tuition free, and you can even qualify for some additional money for books, etc.  These apply to every resident of the state of Louisiana, regardless of financial situation.  

  •  One problem I see daily is (0+ / 0-)

    that people do not save up at all for their children's education. I speak to parents all the time who have good incomes but are living so beyond their means that they simply don't have the money to save. They are often quite frank and will mention all of the personal debt they have that prevents them from paying for their kid's education. So, they end up borrowing more and more and getting deeper into debt. And their kid ends up graduating with tons of student loan debt that will take forever to repay.

    He who is carried away by his own importance seldom has far to walk back.

    by StateOfGrace on Thu Jan 26, 2012 at 03:10:22 PM PST

    •  In California (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I admit that I did not put away enough for my daughter's education.  Actually, I didn't put away anything, though I did beef up my savings.  In my defense, California has (or should I say had) one of the best university systems in the world with UC Berkeley and UCLA 17 years ago when my daughter was born.  I checked out the tuition, which was one of the cheapest, and figured, if nothing else, I could send her to one the UC's and she would get an awesome education and an affordable price.  How was I to know that they would completely gut the University's finances and raise tuition way beyond a level that I can reasonably afford?  Tuition has gone up something like 200% in the past 10 years, far surpassing SOI increases.  

  •  Does this account for increase in enrollment? (0+ / 0-)

    The percentage of high school graduates who enroll in college has steadily increased.  

    I suspect that the percentage increase in enrollment gradually skews the demographics of incoming students closer to average, since a bigger slice of HS graduates includes more people with average or below average SATs or GPAs.  Those kids are probably less likely to have scholarships.

    Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

    by Caj on Thu Jan 26, 2012 at 03:18:58 PM PST

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