August 27 2012
College Affordability Remains Elusive after Nearly 50 Years
Vicki E. Alger
The federal government has not made college more affordable, and paying for college is a growing burden on families. A new analysis by Chad Miller of the American Action Forum finds that “150 years after the federal government began higher education financial assistance, the taxpayers find themselves paying too much for too little results.”
Especially troubling is the fact that financial aid is distributed to students that don't really need it, specifically in the context of Pell Grant awards. In 2009-10, 21 percent of Pell recipients report annual family incomes greater than $40,000. The following academic year, 3 percent of recipients reported family incomes of more than $60,000. “The Pell Grant program is becoming increasingly saddled with its own unsustainability, threatening to collapse the original pillar of financial aid for the disadvantaged,” according to Miller (p. 5).
Meanwhile, 29 percent of student borrowers dropped out of college in 2009, compared to 23 percent who dropped out in 2001. (p. 7)
Miller concludes that we are no closer to making college affordable today than we were in 1965 when Congress passed the Higher Education Act.