May 3, 2021
The share of public higher education institutions affordable to students from low-income families shrunk between the 2014-15 and 2018-19 academic years, according to a new analysis.
The National College Attainment Network found that only 23% of 490 public four-years were affordable by 2018-19. The share was higher for community colleges, with NCAN considering 41% of 514 such schools to be affordable that year.
NCAN is one of dozens of higher ed groups that have been calling on the Biden administration to double the maximum Pell Grant award and index it to inflation to improve college access.
NCAN considers a public college to be affordable if its total in-state cost of attendance plus $300 in emergency expenses is lower than the combination of the institution’s average grant awards, the average federal loan disbursement and Federal Work Study award, the expected family contribution of the average Pell Grant recipient and summer wages.
“The formula is designed to show the student is doing everything right,” said Carrie Warick, NCAN’s director of policy and advocacy. “They’re taking advantage of all the opportunities available to them to fund their education and they’re still not able to meet those requirements.”