From: Cemail@example.com (AP / ARLENE LEVINSON, AP National Writer)
Subject: Study: Most Colleges Too Expensive
Keywords: U.S. news and features
Organization: Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press (via ClariNet)
Date: Sun, 6 Jan 2002 22:40:06 PST
Expires: Sun, 20 Jan 2002 21:10:37 PST
Xref: news.itd.umich.edu clari.news.education.higher:1285 clari.news.front_page:52597 clari.news.issues:48100 clari.news.education:3033
A new study being released Monday on the skyrocketing cost of
higher education says there are only five states where all the
four-year public colleges are affordable for low-income students,
and in many of those, the students still need to borrow money to
In a third of all states, low-income students need loans even to
attend some two-year community colleges, the study found.
The findings of the year-old Lumina Foundation for Education
have sparked sharp criticism from higher education groups.
The foundation rated nearly 3,000 colleges and universities, and
said that while at least half the public four-year schools in 40
states are financially manageable for median-income students, those
students often need loans.
Only in Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Kentucky and Wyoming are all
four-year public colleges affordable for low-income people, it
Critics complained that the study flies in the face of reality:
15 million people from all income levels attend college at two- and
four-year schools. They also charged that the study risks
discouraging those who might benefit most from a college degree.
Lumina's vice president for research, Jerry Davis, said the
study focuses on the hardships imposed by paying for college.
``We're saying students and families must make inordinate
financial sacrifices to attend those schools,'' Davis said. The
struggle to afford college leads some to quit, he said.
Davis said he had hoped that higher education officials would
use the study to help secure more state and federal aid for
The study arrives as the recession is both driving up demand for
college -- as people look to improve their skills and resumes -- and
the cost of attending, especially at state institutions where about
80 percent of college students are found.
The study used 1998 federal statistics on income, enrollment and
financial aid, among other factors. It looked at four income
groups: low- and median-income students still dependent on parents'
income, and independent students ages 25-34 with low or median
Higher education groups said the study's methods were flawed and
could put people off the idea of college or certain institutions.
``Enrollments go up every single year,'' said Terry Hartle, vice
president of the American Council on Education. ``If this is
correct, there are a lot of people in higher education that aren't
supposed to be there.''
Hartle lauded Lumina's effort but said it would reinforce
mistaken assumptions. Surveys find the public tends to overestimate
the cost of a college education, he said.
David Warren, head of the National Association of Independent
Colleges and Universities, said the report ``misrepresents reality,
misleads readers, and harms the very families the foundation is
trying to help.''
The topic of cost is ``probably one of the touchiest policy
issues in higher education right now,'' said Travis Reindl, state
policy director at the American Association of State Colleges and
Still, Reindl said it was unfair for the study to label specific
schools as ``unaffordable.''
``If you're going to really judge an institution, you have to
really dig into the nitty-gritty of what's happening at the
institution,'' he said.
The nonprofit Lumina Foundation was created with proceeds from
the 2000 purchase of USA Group, a nonprofit company that services
student loans, by Sallie Mae, a leading provider of student loans.
The foundation is devoted to expanding access to higher education.
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