The Institute for College Access & Success

College Costs in Context: College (Un)Affordability by State

Posted on May 8, 2017

College (Un)Affordability by State: Lowest-Income Students Face Highest Cost Burdens

A sobering new analysis by The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) finds striking inequities in public college affordability, both within and across states. “College Costs in Context: A State-by-State Look at College (Un)Affordability” exposes the financial burdens that the actual costs of getting a public college education place on students at different income levels. While college costs are high relative to family incomes for most students in most states, the lowest income students face by far the most extreme and unrealistic financial expectations.

Nationally, families that earn $30,000 or less have to spend 77 percent of their total income to cover the average net price of going to a four-year school, and 50 percent of their total income for a two-year school – more than double the burden placed on any other income group. In 15 states and D.C., the net price for the lowest income students at four-year colleges is more than 100 percent of total family income. College Costs in Context is unique in focusing on affordability as the share of family income required to cover the net price paid by students at each income level, and the number of hours low-income students would have to work to cover the price they’re asked to pay.

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