MINDS @ UW-Madison

Affordability and Access in American Higher Education in the 21st Century

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Feb 01, 2006
Access, Persistence, and Success; Finance and Economics
The cost of postsecondary education has risen steadily in recent decades, resulting in high tuition that limits or prohibits attendance for many potential students. In the face of declining state support for public higher education, as well as efforts to transform federal government loan programs and other forms of financial aid, many prospective students and their families are constrained in both their choices of postsecondary pathways and their knowledge of available options. Rising costs and changing financial support structures have important implications for student access to postsecondary education in a landscape that already disproportionately benefits some students at the expense of others. This forum will examine the social, political, and policy context of affordability and its impact on access to American higher education. The morning panel will address the social context of affordability, exploring such questions as: students' aspirations and perceptions of postsecondary opportunities, social dynamics affecting students' access to postsecondary education, and factors influencing persistence in higher education. The afternoon panel will discuss the policy contexts of the affordability debate, focusing on issues related to financial aid, federal government support programs, and future directions for funding postsecondary education in the United States.
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