Some state colleges still committed to keeping student debt down

California WatchBlog

April 9, 2010 | Louis Freedberg

On an otherwise gloomy higher education landscape, there’s one sliver of good news for students struggling to cover their college expenses.

According to a new survey by the Project on Student Debt, 50 colleges with policies to limit or eliminate loans in student aid packages are still keeping those policies in place. That includes all 10 University of California campuses, the California Institute of Technology, Claremont McKenna College, Pomona College, and Stanford.

These colleges are apparently not going down the same road as some highly selective colleges like Williams and Dartmouth that recently announced that they could no longer afford to stick to their “no-loan” pledges.

“It’s good that schools that have committed resources to minimizing debt for those who can least afford it are staying the course,” said Lauren Asher, president of the Oakland-based Institute for College Access and Success, which carried out the study.

This doesn’t translate into a free ride for students.

Flickr photo by Amoeda

Aid packages vary from school to school, but, at least in California, all require that parents at least have to make their “expected family contribution” based on federal guidelines.

According to the survey, Stanford families with an income of $60,000 and one child in college have to contribute $12,949, towards the total cost of attendance of $50,992. Those funds could come from a range of sources – regular income, savings, loans, student employment, grandparent contributions, etc.

For UC students with similar incomes the costs would be higher. They’d have to pay $17,792 towards the total college costs of $26,985.

Check out this comprehensive table to see how much you or your family could expect to pay at these colleges.

Asher said she is encouraged that the recession hasn’t led to dozens of colleges blowing up their no-loan or limited-loan pledges. But she pointed out that only about 8 percent of students attending four year colleges are at schools that have made these public pledges.

“It is important not to mistake this for the whole story of college affordability in this country,” Asher said. “For many students their costs are going up when it is harder than ever to cover them.”


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