Issue Position: Higher Education
Skyrocketing increases in college tuition and cuts to financial aid programs are creating serious financial barriers to higher education, forcing students to borrow money at unprecedented rates, or give up on college entirely. This is unacceptable in a country that prides itself on excellence, both in education and in its workforce. A college degree leads to improved skills and knowledge, greater employment opportunities, and considerably higher pay. In addition, an educated population enhances America's productivity and leadership position in the global economy.
Making college education more affordable and accessible must be a top priority for the federal government. Student loan programs should be more competitive to ensure students receive the best possible deal. Congress and the White House need to intensify efforts to crack down on student loan subsidy abuse by banks and other lenders, who have amassed millions of dollars on student loans by exploiting loopholes in federal law. In addition, increasing the size of and access to Pell grants would provide needed relief from the escalating cost of tuition. Pell grants are an important source of financial assistance for students enrolled in college - a source that does not have to be paid back.
We must make a college education more affordable for students and their families.
Public college tuition has increased 35 percent over the past four years.
The percentage of undergraduate financial aid in the form of grants decreased for the third year in a row. The percentage of undergraduate aid in the form of loans increased for the second consecutive year. [The College Board]
The value of the average Pell Grant (in constant dollars) declined for the second straight year. In the 2001-2002 school year, the maximum Pell Grant award covered 42 percent of average tuition, fees, and room and board. That number dropped to 36 percent in the 2004-2005 year.
Workers who possess a college degree earn approximately 75 percent more than those without higher education degree.