But the trend has some worried that top-tier, taxpayer-funded universities are increasingly out-of-reach to middle-class students whose families might make too much for significant financial aid but not enough to afford all of the college expenses.
Experts point out that the nation's middle class, overall, has shrunk, which could account for some of the percentage dip at top-tier public universities. They also point out that average in-state tuition continues to rise.
"There has been a real change in the overall distribution of income in the country. It's becoming much more unequal," said Sandy Baum, an economist and policy analyst for the College Board. "That's making many families make difficult choices about college, especially as costs increase."
At all public, four-year universities, the percentage of incoming freshmen from families who make between $40,000 and $100,000 has dropped 8%, while the percentage of incoming freshmen from families making more than $100,000 rose 10%, according to federal data.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Middle Class Students Are Shrinking in College
The percentage of students from middle-income families ($40,000-$100,000) attending colleges and universities has declined significantly since 2005 as rising tuition and costs become unaffordable in this fragile economy.