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New Report Critical of Higher Education Access and Affordability for Low-Income Students

June 21, 2011

Starting with the compelling evidence that tuition and fees have increased four times the rate of inflation while lower-income families have seen a decrease in their earnings by 7 percent, The Education Trust report, "Priced Out: How the Wrong Financial Aid Policies Hurt Low Income Students" measures and ranks four-year institutions on their graduation rates, net price, and accessibility to find that only five institutions across the country meet their requirements for an affordable, accessible, and quality education.

In order to meet Education Trust's requirements, four-year institutions had to have at least a 50 percent 6-year graduation rate, a net price of no more than 27 percent of average family income (approximately $4,600) and enroll at least the national average of low-income students as measured by Pell eligibility (30 percent of the student body). The latest Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System data that now includes net price information was used for this analysis.

Out of 1,186 institutions, the five institutions that made Education Trust's cuts on three measures of affordability, quality and accessibility were: University of North Carolina at Greensboro, CUNY Queens College, California State University- Fullerton, CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College, and California State University-Long Beach. State policies were recognized as playing a part in these five institutions' success. Education Trust attributes their success to the policies for more need based aid being awarded. Tuition and fees for these institutions are also below the national average.

"Priced Out" criticizes the for-profit sector, private institutions with large endowments, and public flagship institutions for not meeting their criteria. Charts and tables on the study's methodology, the plotting of all institutions relative to the three measures, and a list of flagship universities with lowest and highest net price are provided.

Copies of the "Priced Out" report are free to download from The Education Trust web site.


Natalie Pullaro Davis
Manager, Research and Policy Analysis