Priced Out

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College Results Online ( offers a wealth of information, whether you’re interested in a particular college or want to find out more about a range of institutions. This easy-to-use interactive tool lets you examine and compare graduation rates, student demographics, and enrollment information from four-year colleges across the nation.

With the newly added net-price data, CRO now enables prospective students to determine not just the tuition “sticker price” of a particular college but also what the average student actually pays after all forms of grant aid are taken into account.

Visit CRO to explore the information and forward the link to the prospective college students you know.

For low-income students,

turning college dreams into

a reality isn’t easy.

In “Priced Out: How the Wrong Financial-Aid Policies Hurt Low-Income Students,” The Education Trust demonstrates how much low-income students must stretch to pay for college, even after grant aid is taken into account.  The report (download here) finds that just five of the nation’s nearly 1,200 four-year colleges and universities have student bodies that are at least 30 percent low-income and offer low-income students a reasonable chance at a bachelor’s degree at an relatively affordable cost. (A sixth institution, Berea College, makes it its mission to educate and graduate low-income students and therefore charges no tuition.)

The result?  Far too many low-income students are priced out of higher education.

The average low-income family, the study finds, must contribute an amount roughly equivalent to 72 percent of its annual household income each year just to send one child to a four-year college.  That’s after all sources of grant aid are taken into account. Meanwhile, middle-class and high-income families contribute amounts equivalent to just 27 percent and 14 percent of their yearly earnings, respectively.

Budget-balancing battles at the state and federal levels threaten to make this bad situation even worse, by cutting grant aid for low-income students. For example, the Pell Grant Program, the cornerstone of federal efforts to make college affordable for these students, faces serious threats in the FY 2012 budget negotiations. The U.S. Senate recently rejected the House of Representatives’ move to slash support for the program, yet it remains unclear how Pell ultimately will fare once the Senate finally drafts its own budget. At stake are the dreams of the more than 10 million Americans who rely on Pell to afford college.

(Corrected version posted November 23, 2011.)


Use Ed Trust’s new tool to explore the net-price data for each of the 1,186 four-year institutions examined in “Priced Out.” See how your alma mater stacks up. Compare individual public and nonprofit intuitions to each other.  What about the for-profits?  Fueled by federal net-price data, which is available to the public for the first time, this tool offers critical new insights into the colleges available to low-income people.


Read other reports based on College Results Online data:


Subprime Opportunity: The Unfulfilled Promise of For-Profit Colleges and Universities

Read how high costs plus low graduation rates are dimming the dreams for too many students who place their trust—and their futures—in the hands of for-profit college companies.


Big Gaps, Small Gaps

These two reports dig beneath overall graduation-rate averages to see which colleges fare best at graduating their African-American and Latino students.