Photo: Financial Aid for Latinos
Chris Ogren stands in a frustrated hunch at a window of New York University’s financial aid office, where he’s come for the fifth time in two days to sort out a problem with his $45,000 worth of student loans.
It gives him little comfort to learn that U.S. universities and colleges are handing $5.3 billion in financial aid this year to students who the government says don’t need it, according to new figures from the College Board, while another nearly $4 billion in tax credits meant to help Americans pay tuition went to families with incomes between $100,000 and $180,000.
More money for higher-income families means less help for lower- and middle-income ones, education experts say. And, in fact, the share of financial aid being given to low-income students like Chris Ogren, who are falling deeper and deeper into debt, has declined steadily over the last 10 years, government statistics show.
“It just doesn’t make any sense,” said Ogren, a 20-year-old junior. “You don’t give the bloated guy the cheeseburger when the starving man is starving.”
The news comes at a time when universities are being stretched by budget cuts and endowment shortfalls. It also follows separate announcements that student debt among low- and middle-income students continues to rise, and income inequality in the United States is getting worse.