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Tuition increases outpacing income, says report

May 6, 2002

Tuition is consuming a bigger percentage of family income than ever, says a study released last Thursday, and the poorest families are being hit hardest.

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, which advocates for public policy that supports higher education, reports that in 1980, average tuition at a our-year state school consumed about 13 percent of the median income in households earning in the bottom 20 percent of income levels.

Today, tuition at the same institutions takes 25 percent of median income for such families.

Middle-income families saw tuition rise from 5 to 11 percent of their household income, up from 3 to 6 percent.

Wealthy families saw no increase, with 2 percent of income going to tuition costs at public four-year institutions.

As a result of rising tuition, students are borrowing more, working more, seeking out less expensive campuses and taking fewer courses, which can slow progress toward a degree, according to Patrick Callan, the president of the Center.