More student money, more problems

Ashley Milne-Tyte Dec 3, 2007


Scott Jagow: If you have kids in college, or you’ve been there yourself recently, you know this all too well: The cost of tuition is far outpacing inflation.

Some in Congress have called for schools to take money out of their endowments to help more families afford college. And certain private universities are going along with this. They’re giving grants instead of loans. Ashley Milne-Tyte has more.

Ashley Milne-Tyte: Only a few private colleges are giving students grants instead of making them take out loans. Their endowments are big enough that they can afford it.

Ronald Ehrenberg directs the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute. He says some wealthy schools may follow suit. Others will probably do what universities like Emory and Wesleyan have done. They offer grants to students from families under a certain income level.

But Ehrenberg says that tactic raises some tough questions:

Ronald Ehrenberg: I sort of worry, how do we guarantee that all students can come? And if we load too much money down for the really disadvantaged students, what will happen to the middle class at the less-wealthy institutions?

Who’ll be stuck with the usual pile of student debt.

Ehrenberg says a more pressing problem is how to improve funding of endowment-poor public schools, where 80 percent of students go.

In New York I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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