The Truth Behind the Hidden Costs of College
Today’s college students are facing a very real financial crises that threatens to overwhelm their chances of academic success. Zakiya Smith, strategy director for finance and federal policy at Lumina Foundation, makes a compelling case that today’s students are simply overextended. Though more students today work more than past generations, there is a widening gap between income and affordability.
In her piece for Medium, Smith points out that more than one-third of college students attend school part-time, and nearly 20 percent are holding down full-time jobs while they attend school. Parental responsibilities also factor in, particularly for students of color: More than 40 percent of black and Native American students are raising children while in school.
The kicker? Books, food, rent, and other supplies can add up to much more than tuition, which makes the problem hard to tackle.
Lumina Foundation, which is focused on increasing students’ access to and success in postsecondary education, has developed a concept called the affordability benchmark. What does it mean?
1. Those with the capacity to save should be encouraged to do so with clear guidelines that can be broken down into monthly amounts.
2. Students without the capacity to save for college shouldn’t be expected to do so.
3. No student should have to work so much to pay for college that it impacts their ability to be successful in school.
Can this set of ideas re-frame the dialogue around college? The success of future generations may depend on it.