Can the middle class afford college?

  • 05/27/2017
  • Press Corp
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The beginning of May was the deadline for the last of high-school seniors to make their final decision about where they’re going to college next fall. For some it was a sprint to the finish as they weighed the social and academic fit of campuses still on their list, but also the all-important financial aid offers from colleges.

I heard about the agony of the decision-making process from some of them in e-mail messages asking for advice or as I traveled the country in recent weeks to speak at high schools about the admissions process and how to succeed as an undergraduate. A few described their financial situation in detail, while others talked about their “middle-class backgrounds,” with jobs as school teachers, firefighters, or supermarket managers. As personal financial columnist Ron Lieber wrote recently about middle-class families—and their angst in paying for college—“nobody sympathizes with them much, and they do not ask for you to do so” given the difficulties that low-income families have in paying for college.

Indeed, much attention has been given recently to the struggles of low-income students. Research shows that as family income rises so do the chances of not only going to college but also completing a degree. But as college prices continue to rise faster than the income levels of many Americans, it begs the question: what happens to those families just on the other side of the low-income cutoff for many financial aid programs?

Read more at The Washington Post
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