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Higher Tuition Forces Students Into Cheaper Schools, Study Says

Sharp tuition increases are forcing more lower-income students to forego their dream college for less expensive universities or community colleges, or are keeping some out of school entirely, according to a study released Monday.

The nearly two-year study by Illinois State University’s Center for the Study of Education Policy recommends that states bolster their student financial aid programs to counter rising costs, which officials also say are squeezing middle-income families.

“We have a lot of bright young students that cannot afford to go to college, and it’s a benefit to the state to produce productive taxpayers,” says Ross Hodel, director of the center.

Funded through a $300,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation for Education, the study examined how student access to college was affected by tuition costs, which jumped nationwide after states trimmed college funding budgets during four recessions dating to the early 1980s.

The study found that 44 of 50 states have cut spending for colleges since the last recession in 2001, but only 15 boosted financial aid to offset the tuition increases that followed.

As a result, about half of the states say high costs are keeping more lower-income students out of their first-choice college, the study found.

Illinois is among seven states where financial aid programs have come close to keeping pace with rising tuition over the last quarter-century, according to the study. The others are Arizona, Kansas, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas and Washington.

— Associated Press

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