Tuition and fees at most community colleges are pretty reasonable these days, about $3,500 a year. Which is why the vast majority of community college students don't take out loans to cover their costs. But, according to the Institute for College Access and Success, a non-profit advocacy group based in California, nearly a million community college students who do need help paying for school don't have access to federal student loans.
The New York Timeshighlighted new data yesterday that once again beats the drum: Despite skyrocketing costs, a college degree is a good investment. In fact, MIT economist David Autor writes in the journal Science that the value of a degree is rising. College grads made almost twice as much per hour in 2013 as workers without a four-year degree. And the lifetime value of a diploma is now around a half-million dollars, even after you factor in tuition.
If you want to get an earful about paying for college, listen to parents from states where tuition and fees have skyrocketed in the last five years. In Arizona, for example, parents have seen a 77 percent increase in costs. In Georgia, it's 75 percent, and in Washington state, 70 percent.
President Obama thinks more poor kids who are good students should be enrolled in the country's best colleges and universities. Too often, he says, kids from lower income families don't even apply to the best schools, where they might have a good chance of getting financial aid.
This week, he gathered the heads of 100 colleges and universities to a meeting at the White House to discuss how to change this situation for the better. I hope he is successful.