Findings show declining investment in public college in 49 out of 50 states since 2001, and skyrocketing prices for the working class
Washington, DC – Today, Demos, a New York-based public policy organization, released its new report, The Unaffordable Era: A 50-State Look at Rising College Prices and the New American Student. Using data from the U.S. Department of Education, State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, and the U.S. Census Bureau, the report takes a look at where college prices have increased the most in the past generation, and where students and families are bearing most of the burden of rising college prices.
The report finds that in 38 states, working-class students need to work more than 20 hours a week to avoid student debt at a public 4-year college, potentially putting their studies at risk. It also finds that in many states, college prices are truly burdensome, relative to family income, for people of color. In 26 states, the average net price of a public 4-year college makes up over half of a typical black family’s annual income. In 9 states, the average net price of a public 4-year college takes up over one-third of a Latino family’s median income. In 11 states, college prices take up 20% more of a typical black family’s income than a typical white family’s income.
“When our country invests in students and public colleges, we all benefit. Unfortunately, due to austerity, neglect, and lack of political fortitude, today’s students and families—the most diverse in our nation’s history—face a massive uphill climb in being able to afford higher education and get ahead,” said Mark Huelsman, Senior Policy Analyst at Demos and author of the report. “The only way to give today’s students a fair shot is for the federal government and state governments to come together and reinvest in our public institutions and the students that attend them. It’s time to give this generation the same chance previous generations enjoyed.”
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The Unaffordable Era is the second in a series of research reports that Demos has released this month on the burden of the rising cost of college. Last week, Demos also released When Congress Went to College, a yearbook which looks at the colleges attended by each member of the 115th Congress, and compares the price of tuition when they attended to today’s tuition costs at those same colleges.
Since 2006, Demos has been a leader in advancing policy solutions to address the college debt crisis facing America’s students After years of studying the trends in funding for higher education at the state level, Demos released a policy blueprint in 2014, titled The Affordable College Compact, under the leadership of Tamara Draut, Vice President of Policy and Research. For the first time, the compact outlined a detailed approach to achieve debt-free college through federal-state partnerships, with the goal of making public higher education more affordable for all students.