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SPIN METER: College aid outpaced by college costs

SPIN METER: College aid outpaced by college costs

AP via Yellowbrix

August 28, 2009


_"This legislation will also help us reach the goal I set out in Michigan this week to graduate 5 million more Americans from community colleges by 2020." — Obama.

_"It will help us reach President Obama’s goal of once again leading the world in college graduates by making college more affordable and accessible." — Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., House Education and Labor Committee chairman.

_The bill “will make college dramatically more affordable for millions of Americans.” — House Education and Labor Committee news release.


College in the United States is only getting more expensive, with the cost growing faster than the cost of health care.

The foundation for federal college aid is the Pell Grant, which is for low-income students and, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid.

When Pell Grants began in 1973, they provided more than enough to cover tuition and fees at a public four-year college, where most students are enrolled. The maximum grant then was $452; tuition and fees were about $438.

That’s no longer the case. The maximum Pell Grant last year was $4,731; public college tuition and fees were $6,585. Not every grant recipient receives the maximum.

Community colleges still charge less, about $2,400 on average. Private schools charge a lot more, about $25,000.

Regardless, tuition at every type of college has risen faster than Pell Grants have, and the disparity would worsen under the bill.

That might actually work against Obama’s goal.