Recent data suggests that the enrollment in post-secondary (college) programs and courses is declining in the low income populations. The stats are showing a decline of 14% of total student populations between 1992 and 2004. This is an alarming and disenheartening trend! The report, THE RISING PRICE OF INEQUALITY – HOW INADEQUATE GRANT AID LIMITS COLLEGE ACCESS AND PERSISTENCE, which was compiled by the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance and presented to Congress and the Secretary of Education in June of this year, shows a significantly lower decline in the student population made up of middle income students of only 5% over that same time frame.
The report also discusses persistence of students (students staying in school until they complete their degree). Lower income student’s persistence dropped 3% while middle income student’s persistence remained the same during the period from 1995 to 2003.
What these stats are telling us that going to college is becoming even more difficult than it ever was for low income populations. As the report described above reflects, “the net price for a low-income student attending a four-year college is 48 percent of family income, compared to 26 percent for a moderate-income student.” Almost half their income? That must seem an insurmountable obstacle.
The primary reason for going to college remains the same: to increase your earning potential. In fact, the Digest of Educational Statistics, complied and disseminated by the National Center for Education Statistics, shows us that “those with some college, but no degree on average earn $4,000 more per year than a high school graduate (about $32k vs $28k per year).” Clearly then those who complete a degree will earn even more.
So how does Colorado stack up in this story? In fact, students’ in Colorado Associate degree programs graduate from thier program of study at a rate of 40.2% in three years, which is less than the maximum time frame allotted by the federal government of 3.5 years. That rate is fourth in the country! Impressive!
In short, the degree is worth the time and money you’ll spend to get it. But please get all your financial ducks in a row first! Be sure you are utilizing all possible sources of “free” funding (scholarships, grants, personal gifts, etc.) FIRST, before you tap into the loans. Those payments will be a shock when they come, no matter how prepared you are for them!