What is my number one worry, as I think about my students’ college choices,? Getting into a top school? No. The student distinguishing themselves from their peers? No. Finding the “right-fit” school? Close, but not Quite. My single biggest concern surrounding the college admissions process is the cost.
Tuition and fees at four-year universities are significantly outpacing inflation. Knowing that most families cannot meet the demands of increasing college costs, which at many private colleges comes in at well over $60,000 per year, there must be viable alternatives for our students.
To make matters worse, financial aid is subject to the whims of each institution. A family fills out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), based on family income and assets. When a family applies for financial aid, each institution sees the FAFSA and makes their OWN determination about how much aid to give and HOW to give it. The financial aid package is usually a combination of grants and loans.
The middle class is stressed in the current financial aid model—I make too much to qualify for aid; I don’t make enough to send my child to college without a ton of borrowing. And even those students who qualify as needy are often expected to take loans as part of their financial aid package, with only a small number of elite colleges doing away with loans for those students who qualify.
The tuition crisis facing so many families in a wide range of income brackets is real, and on its current course it presents an unsustainable model—a very troubling situation for our country’s system of higher education.