Proof Points: Surprising Patterns in Who Gets Merit and Need-Based Aid From Colleges

"The bottom line on college tuition is that there is no bottom line. At most four-year institutions, admitted students are quoted all sorts of different prices. Often masquerading as 'merit aid' or 'scholarships,' the discounts are aimed at persuading students to attend, much like online retailers dangle coupons to persuade you to purchase the items in your shopping cart," The Hechinger Report reports.

... "Jill Desjean, a senior policy analyst at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, a Washington D.C.-based lobbying group, said need-based aid has climbed sharply because colleges keep hiking their sticker prices. 'Say you get a $20,000 scholarship,' she said. 'If the tuition goes up by $2,000 the next year, it’s not likely that the college is going to assume that the family can afford to spend $2,000 more. So they increase the scholarship to $22,000.'"

"Desjean couldn’t explain why there might be racial and ethnic differences in who gets need-based tuition discounts. Only a few dozen colleges are able to provide enough need-based aid so that students don’t have to take out loans. Clearly, colleges have a lot of discretion on which needy students they want to support and by how much."

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Publication Date: 7/31/2023

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