Students at the College of William and Mary were not the only students to face a rise in tuition this year. The cost of college tuition has increased by almost eight percent since last year, whether the college is public, private, non-profit, a community college or a two-year university. With this increase has come a large increase in the amount of financial aid given to students in the form of grants, student loans and scholarships. While the increase in financial aid helps families who need help to pay for their students’s tuition, the increase in cost is causing a large problem for families that do not qualify for aid but still have trouble keeping up with the increasing costs of higher education.
Tuition costs in colleges across the nation have risen greatly this year due to a decline in state funding. This decrease has caused a dramatic rise in financial aid, and especially need-based aid. This is reflected in the increase in Pell Grants, a grant given to students based on financial need, which rose $10 billion from last year. Colleges themselves have stepped up and have inceased the amount of aid given out on a basis of need by 28 percent this year, causing 42 percent of all aid given by colleges to be need based. The reasons for this increase are not clear, but one possibility is that colleges are recognizing the need and economic situations of many students and are trying to help.
This does present a problem for students who do not qualify for need-based financial aid but still cannot pay the tuition costs easily. It also raises the question of whether colleges should be giving more aid to help students’ families because of the economic recession. Many families do not meet the financial qualifications for need-based aid.
Colleges should do more to help these families; however, because of the decrease in state funding, they may not be able to do so. For this reason, privatization of financial aid would help the situation greatly. The amount given to those families that do qualify should also be able to increase due to extenuating circumstances. For example, if a parent whose job provides the main income of the household, is laid off, the family might then qualify for need-based aid. However, if this happens in the middle of the year the parent cannot apply for a change in the aid his or her child is receiving. This creates an even bigger strain on the family and could even force the student to attend a different college because of economic situation at home. If the aid families received could be changed due to circumstances such as this, more students would be able to afford going to larger, more prestigious, and more expensive colleges.