Affordable? College costs: Tuition increases may further limit access of poor and minority students.

November 27, 1998

THE BAD NEWS for poor and minority youngsters wanting to go to college just got worse.

A recent study has reaffirmed that the cost of higher education continues to climb, making it more unaffordable for low-income families. The study was done for the Institute for Higher Education Policy and the Education Resources Institute.

That news, combined with the assault on affirmative action that has resulted in enrollment declines, means that fewer blacks, Latinos and other nonwhites will be seen on the nation's campuses.

Pell grants, the largest federal funding source for low-income students, have decreased in value substantially. The average grant has failed to keep up with costs. Twenty years ago, Pell grants made up 39 percent of the cost of attending a public college and 19 percent of private college costs. In the 1996-1997 school year, the percentages were 22 and 9, respectively.

Many critics of affirmative action, which assists nonwhites through the doors, are the same people who oppose providing more money to help keep students on campus. This double whammy acts as pincers against the poor, preventing equal acess to the best education.

Besides increasing the amount of grants, two things must happen: Different ways must be found to attract poor and minority students and to help colleges control costs.

Pub date 11/27/98

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