Wonder if "the education president" even reads about this

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 at 05:00 PM

Simple question for every single American who works for a living: has your income gone up 35% over the last five years?

If not, it's gonna be harder to pay for college for your kids, according to a study just released by the College Board.

Here's the Board's press release summary, with emphasis added:

Tuition Increases Continue to Slow at Public Colleges According to the College Board's 2006 Reports on College Pricing and Financial Aid
Total Grant Aid Increased Last Year, But Pell Grants Declined


WASHINGTON, D.C.--The College Board today announced that at four-year public colleges the increase in average tuition and fees slowed for the third year in a row, but prices are still up 35 percent from 5 years ago, after adjusting for inflation. The increase in average tuition and fees for two-year public colleges in 2006-07 was just slightly above the inflation rate. At all institutions, the net price--the average price students pay after grants and tax benefits are considered--is significantly lower than the published price. Total student aid increased by 3.7 percent to $134.8 billion in 2005-06, but total federal grant aid failed to keep pace with inflation. Even without factoring in inflation, the average Pell Grant per recipient fell by $120.

Evidence of these trends, along with average 2006-07 college prices and 2005-06 student aid data, is documented in the reports, Trends in College Pricing 2006 and Trends in Student Aid 2006. Also released today was a 2006 supplement to Education Pays: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society, which documents the monetary and nonmonetary benefits of higher education, in addition to differences in participation and success across demographic groups.

"The College Board continues to advocate for need-based aid, so that more students can have the opportunity to benefit from a college education," said Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board. "Though student aid makes it possible for many students from low- and middle-income families to afford college, we still face inequality in access to higher education across ethnic, racial, and economic lines."

Published tuition and fee charges at four-year public colleges average $5,836 in 2006-07. There was a $344 increase over last year, which represents 6.3 percent, or 2.4 percent after adjusting for inflation. The average total tuition, fee, room, and board charges for in-state students at public institutions are $12,796.

After grant aid and tax benefits are considered, full-time students enrolled in public four-year colleges and universities pay on average about $2,700 in net tuition and fees. After declining or just keeping pace with inflation each year between 1996-97 and 2002-03, the average net price students pay at public four-year colleges has increased even more rapidly than published prices for the past four years because grant aid has not kept pace.

Published tuition and fee charges at four-year private colleges average $22,218 in 2006-07. The $1,238 increase over 2005-06 represents an increase of 5.9 percent, or 2 percent after adjusting for inflation. The average total tuition, fee, room, and board charges at private four-year colleges and universities are $30,367.

Full-time students enrolled in private colleges and universities pay on average about $13,200 in net tuition and fees after grant aid and tax benefits. Because of growth in grant aid and tax benefits, the net price students pay has increased more slowly over the past decade than the published price.

Published tuition and fee charges at two-year public colleges average $2,272, $90 more than last year. The 4.1 percent increase is less than one-half of one percentage point above the rate of inflation. After grants and tax benefits are considered, full-time students enrolled in public two-year colleges and universities pay less than $100 on average in net tuition and fees. After adjusting for inflation, the net price students actually pay is lower in 2006-07 than it was a decade earlier.

Total Budgets
Tuition and fees represent only a fraction of the total cost of attending college. When living costs and other education-related expenses are considered, tuition and fees constitute 67 percent of the total budget for full-time students enrolled in four-year private colleges and universities, 36 percent of the budget for in-state residential students at public four-year institutions, and only 18 percent of the budget for two-year public college students commuting from off-campus housing.

Institutional Finances
Reductions in revenue from sources other than tuition, particularly state and local appropriations in the public sector, were associated with rapidly rising public college tuition levels in recent years. Other important factors affecting costs include health benefits and particularly utilities, which have increased in price more rapidly in recent years than the prices of other goods and services purchased by colleges and universities. Faculty salaries are significantly higher at private institutions than at public institutions, and the gap is growing. The reports do not include detailed analysis of the causes of tuition increases.

Student Aid2
Almost two-thirds of full-time students receive grant aid that lowers the price they actually pay to attend college. Millions of students also benefit from federal tax credits and deductions for college tuition.

In 2005-06, postsecondary students received a total of $134.8 billion in student aid from federal and state governments, colleges and universities, and other private sources. About 44 percent of this aid was in the form of grants and 51 percent was in the form of loans through the federal government. Subsidies awarded through the income tax system and work-study made up the remainder. Undergraduate students receive significantly more of their aid in the form of grants than do graduate students.

In each of the federal student aid programs, aid per student was lower in inflation-adjusted dollars in 2005-06 than it had been earlier in the decade. Both the total amount of Pell Grants awarded and the average Pell Grant per recipient were lower in 2005-06 than they had been in 2004-05.

Tax benefits favor middle- and upper-income families over lower-income families. About 46 percent of the benefit of the federal education tax credits goes to taxpayers with incomes below $50,000 and 54 percent goes to higher-income taxpayers. Only 22 percent of the benefit of the tuition tax deduction goes to taxpayers with incomes below $50,000; 41 percent goes to those with incomes between $100,000 and $160,000.

Grants from colleges and universities accounted for 41 percent of the grants students received from all federal, state, and private sources in 2005-06. In 2003-04, public two-year colleges and high-priced private colleges distributed more of their grant aid on the basis of need than did public four-year colleges and lower-priced private colleges. In addition to the student aid they received, both undergraduate and graduate students borrowed more from banks and other private lenders than ever before, about $17.3 billion in 2005-06.

Education Pays
The data reported in Education Pays 2006 document increases over time in the earnings gap between high school graduates and college graduates. In 2005, women ages 25-34 with bachelor's degrees earned 70 percent more than those with high school diplomas, and for men the difference was 63 percent. For all full-time workers in this age group, the average earnings premium for a four-year college degree is almost $14,000.

Degree Completion
Forgone earnings for students who are devoting their time to their studies constitute a significant portion of the cost of attending college. These costs are higher the longer it takes students to earn their degrees. Among bachelor's degree recipients in 1999-2000, those who began their studies in four-year public colleges and universities took an average of 6.2 years to earn their degrees, and those who began in four-year private institutions took an average of 5.3 years to earn their degrees.

Remedial courses can add to the time it takes students to obtain degrees because they do not generally count toward college credit. Over one-third of first- and second-year college students have taken remedial courses since high school graduation. Among those who took remedial courses in 2003-04, first- and second-year students took more remedial math (77 percent) and remedial writing (35 percent) than other remedial courses.

"Both affordability and rigorous academic preparation are critical to improving access to college," Caperton said.

1 Trends in College Pricing 2006 is based on data collected in the College Board's Annual Survey of Colleges, 2006-07. It reports tuition, fees, and other charges for the current academic year, 2006-07.

2 Trends in Student Aid 2006 provides the most complete data available on federal, state, and institutional aid to students and parents through the most recently completed academic year, 2005-06.

For more information, contact the College Board Office of Public Affairs at (212) 713-8052.

"Even without factoring in inflation, the average Pell Grant per recipient fell by $120."  Yes, that's the way we're going to transform ourselves into a high tech information society.  That's the way we're going to help working people adjust to the loss of good paying jobs to offshoring and technology.

I don't see how even diehard Republican conservatives can deny that we have the absolute power to improve access to higher education.  Getting kids from lower-middle and lower income strata into and through college takes money, and, to some degree, support programs to correct deficiencies in the high school educations poorer kids receive.  The latter, of course, can also be solved with money.

We could solve this entire "problem" with a small portion of oil company profits, or a small portion of the total no-bid contracts awarded for work in Iraq and Afghanistan, or a reasonable portion of the cash that has simply disappeared from those two countries, or a very small portion of the lost tax revenue from cuts in the taxes on the upper-upper classes.

Think long and hard about that increase: 35% over five years, after adjusting for inflation.  I have a feeling that if you've racked up that kind of income growth, you ain't reading this blog.