BUZZFEED: How Public Universities Shortchange Poor And Minority Students

Career College Central Summary:

  • In the pursuit of prestige, revenue, and rankings, more public universities have turned to dangling merit-based scholarships to attract more out-of-state students, according to a report by the New America Foundation released earlier this week. The result: shortchanging both poor students, who are less likely to receive such aid, and students in the states the universities are funded to serve.
  • Public colleges once devoted the biggest chunk of their financial aid money, some 34%, to students in the bottom income quartile, giving just 16% to the wealthiest students, the report says. That has now shifted dramatically: Financial aid at public colleges now goes equally to the top and bottom quartile of students, with wealthy students receiving 23% of financial aid. The poorest students now receive only 25%.
  • The push toward funneling aid to privileged out-of-state students reflects a change in the nature of public higher education. “By bringing in more and more wealthy nonresident students, these colleges are increasingly becoming bastions of privilege,” the report says.
  • Schools that provide merit aid, it found, tend to enroll far more students from out of state, who typically pick up more merit-based scholarships than in-state students. They also tend to enroll fewer poor students — and charge those poor students more money.
  • A separate report this week by the left-leaning think tank Demos suggests that black students may also be disproportionately impacted by such policies.
  • At public colleges, more than any other schools, the rising tide of student debt has disproportionately burdened students of color, the report said. The gap between black and white student borrowing at four-year public schools is more pronounced than at private and for-profit schools. An estimated 81% of black students at public colleges borrow for their bachelor’s degrees, compared to 63% of white students, a gap of 18 percentage points. At private universities, that gap is 12 percentage points.
  • “The decrease in need-based aid almost certainly has a big part to play” in that gap, said Mark Huelsman, the Demos study’s author.

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