The importance of low-income students making the right college choice
The Education Trust Report, “Priced Out: How the Wrong Financial-Aid Policies Hurt Low-Income Students,” reveals how important college choices are for low-income students, and unfortunately, how those choices vary by state. The report focuses on how much it costs low-income students to attend college after receiving available state, federal, and institutional financial aid. Of all the colleges and universities researched, only 5 were deemed to be affordable:
- The University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a net price for low-income students of $1,470 per year (51.6% graduation rate)
- CUNY Queens College (NY) with a net price of $1,708 per year (51.8% graduation rate)
- Cal State University-Fullerton with a net price of $2,412 per year (51.6% graduation rate)
- CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College (NY) with a net price of $3,220 per year (60.3% graduation rate)
- Cal State University-Long Beach with a net price of $4,239 (54.4% graduation rate)
State universities are supposed to provide affordable postsecondary opportunities for state residents, however, the net cost to attend a public university varies widely depending on the state where students live. The net price for low-income students who are North Carolina residents to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is $2,366 per year while the cost for students who are South Carolina residents to attend the University of South Carolina-Columbia is $15,578 per year. The net price for low-income students who are Louisiana residents to attend Louisiana State University and A&M is $3,079 while the net price for students who are Alabama residents to attend the University of Alabama is $15, 216.
The report also notes, although elite private colleges like Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton keep prices relatively low for low-income students, at about $3,000, less than 15 percent of students attending such schools are from low income backgrounds. If students are to acquire a college-level education and avoid incurring a huge debt, they must receive greater guidance through the decision-making process of choosing a college where they stand the best chance of graduating, and, incurring the least amount of debt.