March 23, 2017
Director of Communications & Strategic Initiatives
New Report Sheds Light on College Affordability for Low-Income Students and Families
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 23, 2017)—As the number of low-income and first-generation scholarship applicants continues to grow for organizations like the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF), so too has national concern over rising tuition costs making college further out of reach for many Americans.
Absent better data, solutions to college unaffordability are limited as higher education administrators, community leaders, and policymakers aim to address the growing barriers to college access. Now, for the first time, a study conducted by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) presents a clearer picture of the challenge ahead and recommendations to keep college within reach for all.
The report, Limited Means, Limited Options, urges policymakers at the federal, state, and institutional level to address inequities in college affordability for low-income, working-class, and middle-class families. Based on Lumina Foundation's Affordability Benchmark, IHEP used net price calculator data by College Abacus to compare the net price of over 2,000 colleges for ten typical 21st century students.
Of its most notable findings, IHEP calculated that students with a household income of over $160,000 could afford 90 percent of colleges. However, students with household incomes of $69,000 could only afford 5 percent of colleges while those with household incomes less than $36,000 could afford only 1 to 2 percent of colleges in the same sample. Among APIASF's 2016 scholarship recipients, 96% have household incomes less than $69,000 while 80% have household incomes less than $36,000. Of APIASF's 10,000 scholarship applicants for the 2017-2018 academic year, 72% have household incomes less than $69,000.
"I thank IHEP for this groundbreaking report which strengthens the case for college affordability through concrete data," states APIASF President and Executive Director Neil Horikoshi. "For many years, APIASF has been working fervently to shed light on the significant barriers that limit college access for many Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students and their families. As part of its core mission, APIASF focuses on students who live at or below the poverty level, are the first in their families to attend college, and are among historically underrepresented ethnicities due to limited access and opportunity. Partnering alongside APIASF in this effort are dozens of AANAPISI campuses nationwide — many of which are community colleges — supporting high concentrations of low-income AAPI students looking to transform their lives through education."
To increase college affordability for more Americans, IHEP urges:
- Federal policymakers to protect and strengthen the value of the Pell Grant;
- States to strengthen investments in higher education and need-based aid programs;
- Colleges to concentrate expenditures on students;
- Colleges with wealth at their disposal—either through large endowments or profits—to keep prices low for needy students; and
- Congress to pass legislation to improve consumer information to help prospective students make informed choices.
To access the full report, please visit: www.ihep.org/limited-means-limited-options.
Based in Washington, D.C., the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) is the nation's largest non-profit organization devoted to providing college scholarships for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). APIASF works to create opportunities for students to access, complete, and succeed after post-secondary education; thereby developing future leaders who will excel in their career, serve as role models in their communities, and will ultimately contribute to a more vibrant America. Since 2003, APIASF has distributed over $110 million in scholarships to AAPI students. APIASF manages three scholarship programs: the APIASF General Scholarship, the APIASF Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander - Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) Scholarship, and the Gates Millennium Scholars/Asian Pacific Islander Americans funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.