It is no secret: college tuition continues to rise despite the shrinking middle class and higher than expected unemployment rates. Is there a correlation between the shrinking middle class and the rise in college tuition? Many, including the president of the United States, believe so, and are increasing grants, including state grants, to help students. Promoting his goal of having the "highest portion of college graduates by 2020," President Obama recently told a University of Texas audience that education is "a prerequisite to prosperity," according to a Christian Science Monitor story. While Obama has allocated an additional $40 billion for Pell Grant scholarships and the maximum amount offered to students has increased to $5,550, the Pell Grant alone is not enough to pay for education and many students are turning to state grants to help pay for their degrees.State grants are very easy to apply for, and every state offers some sort of state financial aid package. Finding information on each state's college grants is as easy as entering the "State" and " state/college grant" into any search bar (ie: "California college grant" or "Pennsylvania state grant"). While there are no hard numbers documenting how many students are using state grants to pay for college, various studies agree that roughly 50% to 90% of all college students are relying on financial aid to pay their way though college.
But are states allocating enough money to college state grants?
Texas has allocated $86.4 billion toward state grants for college students. Gov. Rick Perry recently boasted that the state had increased "financial aid for young people going into our colleges and universities by 900 hundred plus percent since 2001" -- that but 900% boost amounts to just $400 per student in a state that has seen tuition skyrocket 92% over six years.
Tennessee's private colleges are seeing a 5.56% increase in tuition from last year, and the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association reported 89% of its students received financial aid. Penn State (Pennsylvania) just instituted a 3.9- 5.9 % tuition increase.
Very few universities and colleges have cut their tuition or instituted tuition freezes. Some universities in Texas have made tuition cuts or instituted tuition freezes but not one college or university in Tennessee has. Are state grants going to keep in line with these tuition increases? Will allocating more money for students attending these constantly-increasing-tuition universities save the shrinking middle class and help more students graduate? That's the hope of increasing state grants.
State grants are still not enough to pay for college