Board Reports Financial
Aid at $105 Billion
grants are taken into account, the net price that the average
undergraduate student pays for a college education is significantly
lower than the published tuition and fees. Evidence of these
net prices, along with this year’s college costs and 2002-03
student aid funds, which continue to grow rapidly, are documented
in reports released recently by the College Board, Trends
in College Pricing 2003 and Trends in Student Aid 2003.
the 2003-04 academic year, college tuition and fees increased
an average of $579 at four-year public institutions, $1,114
at four-year private institutions, and $231 at two-year public
institutions. In 2002-03, $105 billion was distributed in student
financial aid—a record amount, which was $13 billion more than
was distributed the previous year. Total aid per full-time
equivalent student averages about $9,100 with $3,600 of that
amount in the form of grants.
Board President Gaston Caperton stressed the importance of
higher education, while acknowledging rising costs: “Those
who oversee America’s colleges and universities believe their
institutional importance to economic recovery is undeniable,
and they are, in large measure, correct. Still, all of us need
to focus on the mounting and troubling hardships of financing
College Board reports that student aid reached more than $105
billion in 2002-03, an increase of 15 percent over the preceding
year, or 12 percent after adjusting for inflation. While the
boost in total aid is encouraging, Caperton said that the relative
decline in need-based aid is disheartening. “Higher education
was meant to open doors, not to close them, and it must remain
a conduit to the American dream,” he said. With 2004 marking
the fiftieth anniversary of the creation of a national system
of need-based aid, Caperton said: “We must take this opportunity
to renew a national commitment to need-based aid. The upcoming
reauthorization of the Higher Education Amendments gives us
the opportunity to work toward removing financial barriers
to higher education for low-income students.”
price of college may cause concern among many families, but
the costs associated with not going to college are likely to
be much greater. Within each demographic group, median annual
earnings for year-round, full-time workers with bachelor’s
degrees are about 60 percent higher than earnings for those
with only a high school diploma. Over a lifetime, the gap in
earnings between those with a high school diploma and a B.A.
or higher exceeds $1,000,000.
the United States, college is clearly an investment in the
future that pays off over
a lifetime in both monetary and non-monetary terms,” said Caperton. “Students
from around the globe continue to seek admittance to leading colleges and universities
in the United States. These unique and often complex institutions, with proven
records of exceptional teaching, creative research, and needed service to society,
are envied on the international scene.”
also noted that families are getting more involved in the process
of saving for college. Rapidly growing Section 529 college
savings plans now contain assets of more than
$35 billion, with an average value of $6,573 per account.
all of us need to remember, and tell others, is that America’s
future and quality of life are tied to the benefits of higher
learning, to what transpires in the lecture halls and labs
across the country,” said Caperton.#
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