Financial ‘Safety Schools’ Are Hard to locate

Financial ‘Safety Schools’ Are Hard to locate

Most public universities are no further affordable for low-income students, writes Carrie Warick, leaving few financially safe alternatives for applicants.

When deciding on colleges, students are commonly told to include a “safety school” to make sure they have been accepted to one or more institution. For low-income students, like those who receive advising from college access programs like people in the National College Access Network, additionally they need a type that is different of safety school: a financial anyone to that they aren’t just accepted but additionally are reasonably sure they can afford.

As parents’ concerns about college costs surpass even their worries about having enough money for retirement, whether an inexpensive college option exists — particularly for low-income students — is a crucial question. To resolve it, NCAN designed an affordability measure to see whether a low-income student can reasonably be prepared to successfully piece together all the possible sources for funding a four-year degree in today’s public higher education system.

Why, specifically, a degree that is four-year? As it’s the surest path to the middle-income group for low-income students and students of color. And why examine public institutions in particular? Since they were founded to serve all students inside their state. Their missions depend on ensuring access. At least, low-income students need a single college option that is affordable.

But unfortunately, only 25 percent of public, four-year residential institutions are affordable for the average first-time, full-time Pell Grant recipient that is working in a minimum-wage job. This percentage plummets to approximately 10 % when examining public flagship institutions.

This measure of affordability is detailed in NCAN’s new paper that is white “Shutting Low-Income Students Out of Public Four-Year Higher Education.” It weighs the expense of attendance at an institution — plus $300 to pay for emergency expenses — against students’ average total grant aid from federal, state and institutional resources; the institution’s average federal loan amount; the common Pell Grant recipient’s expected family contribution; and an approximation of students’ earnings from part-time work whilst in school and summer work that is full-time. Combining a few of these aid sources — which requires an adept navigation associated with the aid that is financial — still does not allow students to cover 412 of the 551 (75 percent) residential public four-year institutions into the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

It was not always the case, and NCAN members are seeing the impact of the shift in the field.

“once I started in this work in 2004, i possibly could confidently say that when we did our jobs right and our students did their work as well, then paying for college wasn’t a barrier with their success,” Traci Kirtley, chief program officer at College Possible, told NCAN. “That’s no today that is longer true. Even when students try everything right, many in 2018 are finding that they still can’t afford to pursue a college degree.”

This is a significant equity issue for our country. It’s also a timely one, as policy makers question whether college is “for everyone” and promote programs that are shorter-term outcomes are generally less beneficial. High-income students happen to be more than four times very likely to complete a bachelor’s degree than are low-income students — 60 percent versus 14 percent, respectively. Additionally, low-income students are almost twice as likely as their high-income peers to acquire a postsecondary certificate or associate degree.

Sub-baccalaureate degrees and credentials are valuable, nevertheless the concentration of low-income students within these programs is surely a sign that students would not have equitable choices when picking their career paths. Due to the fact definition of postsecondary education expands, it is important that low-income students — like their peers that are higher-income retain the choice to choose their postsecondary and professional paths based on skills and interests, not finances alone.

This reality of college affordability ought not to be acceptable to either our federal or state policy makers. It will act as a wake-up call that policies meant to enhance our nation’s higher education system must address all pathways, thereby helping low-income students pursue a four-year degree should they desire one.

Methods to college affordability must address multifaceted issues: the complexity associated with the system, affordability at the access point out all pathways — particularly the four-year degree — in addition to debt burden of those who can manage to sign up for the place that is first. Policy makers and advocates must increase their focus on a plan that is cohesive address college affordability. The share of low-income students completing four-year degrees will remain inequitable as they continue to lack at least one viable, affordable college option without a holistic approach.

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