Working to Make Higher Education Affordable
As college costs skyrocket and federal student aid lags, too many Americans must borrow staggering amounts of money to pay for higher education. Last year, new college graduates owed a crushing $27,000 each, on average, but some NEA members report owing ten times as much. At these levels, student debt isn't just a burden, it's a barrier to millions of middle-class Americans seeking college degrees and career preparation.
- Over the past 30 years, states have dramatically decreased funding to public colleges and universities, forcing institutions to shutter programs or dramatically increase the cost of tuition.
- Since 2008, state funding to higher ed has dropped 28 percent, while tuition at public four-year universities has increased 27 percent.
- As costs rise, students borrow more: two-thirds of college graduates leave school owing money—an average $26,600 each. Or worse, they simply don't go to college.
- This country will need 22 million more college-educated workers by 2018, and likely will fall short by 3 million.
What To Do?
Increase need-based financial aid, especially the federal Pell Grant program, which currently doesn't cover even 40 percent of college costs.
Make student loans more affordable by lowering student loan interest rates on federal loans, and further limiting the percentage of income that borrowers can spent on repayments.
Restore full funding of public higher education in the states.