The Real Cost of College

Lower-income students are paying more than higher-income students to get the same college education, according to an analysis of U.S. Department of Education data.

This increase in average “net price” for college from 2008 to 2012 has been noted in several places:

Cost of College3

An article in the Dallas Morning News said that the states are cutting back on higher education spending, forcing public universities to increase tuition. At the same time, grants and scholarships have been distributed disproportionately to higher-income students over the lower-income students. The article claims there is a higher return on investment for the college if it gives smaller increments of money to wealthier students than if it gives a large scholarship or grant to a lower-income student.

A joint effort by The Hechinger Report, the Education Writers Association and the Dallas Morning News analyzed a tremendous amount of data reported by colleges and universities to the U.S. Department of Education. The analysis identifies the “net price” of one year of college education, which students are receiving grants and scholarships, and the difference between “need” and “merit” in aid such as Pell Grants.

The Tuition Tracker (a project of The Hechinger Report, the Education Writers Association, the Dallas Morning News and Omaha World-Herald) allows a user to search schools by name and breaks down the facts, figures and finances for potential students. The site draws its data from the U.S. Department of Education and shows the net price income-based group for an entire year of school at 3,700 U.S. colleges and universities.

Considering previous analyses by the NCPA and the above reports, is college worth the investment? Do you see the “net price” of college increasing for your income? What could be the cause (or causes) of these increases?

Comments (1)

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  1. Zimmer says:

    “The article claims there is a higher return on investment for the college if it gives smaller increments of money to wealthier students than if it gives a large scholarship or grant to a lower-income student.”
    The Matthew Effect in education? Since poor students basically rely on higher education to get rid of poverty, it is unreasonable to bar them out to the universities. Some scholarships serving for poor students should be established soon.