This is a blog of the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College and the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium, by Charles Blaich, director, and Kathleen Wise, associate director.

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The distance between the promise and reality of higher education

Two points from The Education Trust’s recent report Priced Out: How the Wrong Financial-Aid Policies Hurt Low-Income Students (see report summary or download PDF of full report) that highlight the distance between the promise and reality of higher education in the United States:

Education, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery. — Horace Mann (inside front cover)
After exhausting all sources of grant aid, the typical low-income student must come up with more than $11,000 a year to attend a public or private nonprofit college. Every year, this extraordinary financial burden requires low-income families to pay or borrow an amount equivalent to nearly three-quarters of their family income for just one child to attend a four-year college. In contrast, middle-class students must finance the equivalent of 27 percent of their family income to go to college, while high-income students must finance just 14 percent (Table 1). (Page 2)


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