Magazine article USA TODAY

College within Grasp of Most Americans

Magazine article USA TODAY

College within Grasp of Most Americans

Article excerpt

The College Board reports that college tuition and fees in 2000 increased from 4.4 to 5.2% at four-year institutions and from 3.4 to seven percent at two-year institutions, and that a record $68,000,000,000 was available last year in student financial aid. The organization's president, Gaston Caperton, says that the modest rates of increase "means that a college education is still well within the grasp of all Americans," and that students and their families must consider the cost of a college education as "an investment that provides personal and financial dividends for a lifetime."

He cites Census Bureau statistics that have consistently shown the annual income for a person with a college degree is more than 80% higher than for a high school graduate. "In both earning potential and learning potential, you cannot beat the value of a college education.

"Over the decades, the increased support for student financial aid reflects some of the wisest investments our national leaders have made," Caperton states. The vast majority of this growth has come in the form of student borrowing. Loans now represent 59% of all aid, compared to just over 41% in 1980-81.

Increases in Pell Grant appropriations have helped to stabilize the overall loan-grant balance in the aid system, but their purchasing power remains far below what it was in the 1970s. The Pell Grant was intended to be the foundation of Federal student assistance when it was created a quarter-century ago. …

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