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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE10/12/2006
Hispanic Families Hit Hard With Soaring Tuition Costs Far Outpacing Inflation, Wages
WASHINGTON - College is getting priced out of the reach of more Latino students, according to a new report released by the Campaign for America's Future today. The full cost of college for one year at a public university now consumes one third of the annual median household income for Hispanics compared to one-quarter of annual median household income for a non-Hispanic, white family.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Rep. Hilda L. Solis, D-Calif., joined Campaign for America's Future co-director Robert Borosage and League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Executive Director Brent Wilkes on a conference call with reporters today to release the new report and to call on Congress to take steps to make college affordable and ensure that deserving Hispanic students are not priced out of college.
The report details how rising costs, stagnant incomes and flagging public assistance are pricing college out of the reach of more Latino students. And that is why it is particularly unconscionable that the Congress, in this year's budget, slashed $12 billion out of the student loan program, even while interest rates on student and parent loans were hiked, and the level of Pell grants remained frozen for the fifth straight year. College costs are soaring out of reach - and Congress acted to make things worse.
The average cost of attending a public four-year college has increased 42 percent nationwide since 2000, sticking students with a $2,786 hike in costs. Over the same period, the latest Census data show that median family income has fallen 4 percent for Hispanics and 2 percent overall.
The new report finds that with tuition costs rising far faster than inflation, real wages still stagnating, federal assistance shrinking and states cutting back institutional support, millions of students are therefore foregoing college, dropping out, or incurring serious debt.
"The cuts in student loan programs aren't an accident," said Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future. "They are a direct expression of the conservative commitment to dismantling government. From college to health care, conservatives argue that 'You are on your own,' but for Latino students without the good fortune of being born to privilege, this is shutting the door on opportunity, at great cost to this country.
"Education is the key to a better life and success," said Rep. Solis on the call. "For most Latino students college affordability and financial aid are the determining factors when making decisions about their college education. Therefore, it is disgraceful that the Republican leadership slashed federal student aid by $12 billion while college costs keep skyrocketing. At a time when our Latino students are being left behind, we need to work harder to make higher education more affordable and maintain programs that help students pay for college." "As Hispanic students try to cope with soaring college costs, the president and Congress have cut federal assistance for higher education," said LULAC Executive Director Brent Wilkes, who joined Borosage and Rep. Solis on today's call. "These increasing costs are increasingly putting higher education out of reach for hard working Latinos."
Pell Grants have stagnated for four years, and the president's current proposal before the House of Representatives fails to raise meaningfully the federal awards, putting the maximum Pell Grant at $800 less in constant dollars than it was 30 years ago.
Rep. Grijalva noted that across the country, the rising costs of attending a four-year public college coupled with the diminished value of the maximum Pell Grant have limited the college opportunities for many low income and Latino students.
"Rather than helping the 1.8 million Latino students at degree-granting institutions, Republicans have made it harder to pay for college by cutting billions from federal student aid programs," said Rep. Grijalva. "Congress must restore the real value of federal aid by cutting the student loan interest rate in half and re-investing in the Pell Grant Program. Only then, can we begin to help students overcome debt burden and realize their dreams of going to college." The new report documenting the rising financial barriers to higher education includes a record of key college affordability votes along with a letter grade for each member of Congress based on their voting record. The report also documents campaign contributions made by the student loan industry giants Sallie Mae and Nelnet to each member of Congress.
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**NOTE: Media representatives interested in a copy of the new reports can obtain a copy at http://home.ourfuture.org/education/soaring-out-of-reach.html .**