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policyanalysis - Amy Sexton Policy Analysis College...

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Amy Sexton 12/10/08 Policy Analysis College Increasingly Costly For Low-Income Families “A new study from the National Center for Higher Education asserts that poor and middle-class families have had to use s steadily larger portion of their income to send their children to the nation's colleges and universities over the last two decades.” (1) With college tuition skyrocketing, lower income families are struggling to keep up. In addition to tuitions rising, state and federal financial aid is either at a halt or at a much slower increase. The two do not coincide, creating an imbalance of funds, where the student’s families and students, themselves, must pick up the slack. The passage of the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, also known as the G.I. bill, after World War II opened higher education to many American families who previously had no direct familiarity with education beyond high school. For the first time in history, the children of people with average financial means, including lower income families, could get a college degree or could complete vocational training. In one generation, higher education in America was being altered from an organization for the few to a core establishment of democracy, as well as economic progress. Since the passing of the G.I. Bill, Americans have understood that making college affordable is a key to better careers and furthering education. Over the past two decades, tuition for college has been steadily increasing, however, the funds for financial aid and state scholarships has stayed at an all-time low, unable to match the increasing tuition. This causes an imbalance of power and money, leaving the student to pick up the ‘tab’. “On
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average, poor families spent 25 percent of their annual income for their children to attend public four-year colleges in 2000 -- compared with 13 percent in 1980.” (2) That compares with an increase from 4 percent to 7 percent among middle-income families, while the wealthiest families saw no increase in the 2 percent they spent in 1980. While the average amount each state spent on higher education per student rose by 13 percent over that period, to $6,747, state institutions raised their tuition and fees by 107 percent, to $3,512. Attempts have been made to address this situation before. The average federal
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