Out-of-Pocket College Costs Remain Unaffordable for Low-Income Californians, Strengthened State and Institutional Aid Can Help

New findings on net price costs in California show that despite facing the lowest tuition in the nation, low-income students attending a California community college typically pay more for college than do students at the state’s costlier university systems. What College Costs for Low-Income Californians: 2020 looks at the out-of-pocket costs faced by low-income students attending public colleges and universities across the state and their bearing on weekly work hours, student debt, and enrollment.

Institutional grant aid is a significant source of financial aid that can work alongside state and federal grants to reduce Californians’ financial barriers to collegeInstitutional Grant Aid at California Colleges: A Primer, explores the scale and diversity of institutional aid programs across the state’s public and private nonprofit colleges and universities.

Read What College Costs for Low-Income Californians: 2020 and Institutional Grant Aid at California Colleges: A Primer

OPINION: The Dire Need for Significant Federal Investment in U.S. Colleges and Their Students

The coronavirus pandemic has upended U.S. higher education. While colleges grapple with how to continue operations in the upcoming academic year, students are facing unprecedented struggles, difficult choices, and limited options. In an op-ed for The Hechinger Report, TICAS’ Michele Streeter and Jessica Thompson push for significant funding to states to help vulnerable students and colleges in a crisis.

Read the Op-ed

College Insight in California

This Friday (8/14), we’re hosting a ‘how-to’ tutorial webinar for our updated data tool, College-Insight.org. This demonstration will be specific to California data.

Whether you’re looking into college affordability issues or combining multiple datasets, CIS offers 1,600+ CA institutions and over 400 variables to choose from. Learn how to compare institutions, build custom tables, and learn more about top issues facing college students, including college affordability, distance education, and completion.

RSVP here

Michigan Extends Tuition Incentive Program for Thousands of Low-Income Students

Last month, Michigan’s legislative leaders and Governor Whitmer acted to protect financial aid for thousands of low-income students in Michigan during this uncertain time. We commend these leaders for taking this crucial action to extend access to the Tuition Incentive Program (TIP), which provides free tuition at community college and $500 per semester towards a B.A. for qualifying low-income students in Michigan. The largest state scholarship program, TIP provides approximately $60 million a year in tuition support to 24,000 vulnerable students annually. This year, only 50 percent of eligible students have completed the TIP application. The rest were at risk of forgoing this aid if the legislature had not acted. Michigan is facing high unemployment and dire budget projections as a result of COVID-19. This policy change helps keep the door open to college for thousands of needy students and will help assist the state’s economic recovery by enabling more students to upgrade their skills.

Read the statement

Unprecedented Mass Migration Increases Risk of Online Education

Facing an unprecedented moment in higher education, colleges and universities have closed campuses nationwide and moved online amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, one lasting effect of the crisis may be many more students attending classes online, both at traditional and online colleges. While the best and often only option during this crisis, the success of online education is mixed, and the capacity of institutions to consistently deliver a high-quality online education to large numbers of students remains in doubt.

With a necessary migration emphasizing the long-standing need for better information collection and transparency in online higher education, Untangling the Web: How to Monitor the Risks of Online Education, surveys the current landscape of online education and identifies critical problems and widespread questions about how a rapid shift online impacts quality.

Read the report

Report Highlights Importance of Financial Aid Data in the State’s Cradle-to-Career Data System

States invest heavily in education, providing funding either directly or in the form of financial aid from preschool through college, with positive outcomes from those impacting nearly every other area of public policy, particularly the workforce. To understand and assess results, states collect and analyze information about these investments at various levels, and most have already created longitudinal data systems. These systems empower students to make better-informed decisions and provide policymakers with a deeper understanding of the factors that shape student outcomes to create public policy to address state priorities. What’s Aid Got to Do With It? The Importance of Incorporating Financial Aid Data in California’s Cradle-to-Career Data System, examines how states – TexasVirginia, and Maryland – have utilized financial aid data in their longitudinal and higher education data systems and provides recommendations for ways California can follow suit to build a longitudinal data system to help address equity gaps within the state.

Read the report

TICAS Statement on the HEALS Act

For college students and student loan borrowers, the HEALS Act proposed by Senator McConnell on July 27th  was too little, too late. In the face of a surging pandemic, the proposal cuts off much-needed relief for millions of student loan borrowers and fails to invest enough in public colleges to prevent dire consequences for students. Public colleges and universities never recovered from the Great Recession, and now they face additional expenses and huge falls in revenue from tuition and state aid. While the bill provides nearly $30 billion in much-needed direct higher education relief, more funding is needed to prevent a run-up in tuition and student debt. Stay tuned as Congress and the President continue to negotiate a potential relief package while the clock runs out on the supports provided last spring in the CARES Act.

Read the statement

TICAS In the News

  • Study looks at college financial aid applications, sees drop from majority Black schools |David Jesse, Detroit Free Press
    “‘If the program were easier to access, Michigan would be a national leader in free community college statewide,’ said Catherine Brown of TICAS. ‘But the application process serves mainly to keep students out of the program. The Michigan Competitive Scholarship and the Michigan Tuition Grant are both accessed by filling out the FAFSA. TIP has the most onerous application process and the shortest eligibility window of any of the state scholarship programs.’”
  • Here’s how colleges are distributing CARES aid to students | Hallie Busta, Education Dive
    “A recent survey of around 100 colleges found that three quarters had at least some information on their websites about emergency aid available to students through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The survey, conducted by The Institute for College Access & Success, found about half of schools that posted information described the steps students needed to take to get the money, while a third offered guidance for students looking for aid.”
  • Coronavirus stimulus: Student loans arise as potential flashpoint of negotiations | Aarthi Swaminathan, Yahoo Finance
    “James Kvaal, president of the Institute for College Access & Success and a former deputy domestic adviser in the Obama administration, noted that existing income-driven repayment plans already waive payments for borrowers making less than $19,000. Furthermore, according to Kvaal, the logistics would just make the proposal unfeasible: ‘It is simply not feasible to establish a new repayment plan and require them all to enroll within two months.’”
  • Will Relief Package Help DACA Students? | Kery Murakami, Inside Higher Ed
    ‘‘The Trump administration cut off emergency scholarships to three million low-income students, and now Senate Republicans are following suit,’ said James Kvaal, TICAS’s president and a deputy domestic policy adviser in the Obama administration. ‘It’s a callous decision that will cause needless hardship. In the middle of a global pandemic and deep recession, we shouldn’t be shutting doors in the faces of people who need help.’”