Student Access and Strategic Pricing

Donald E. Heller
Professor of Education and Senior Scientist
Director, Center for the Study of Higher Education
The Pennsylvania State University
TIAA-CREF Institute Fellow

April 2008 | Issue # April 2008

As the cost of college has skyrocketed, relative to both consumer prices and increases in income in the country, more and more attention is being paid to the affordability of and access to higher education in the country. Affordability is a function of both the tuition prices charged by institutions, as well as the financial aid that is made available to students and their families to help them pay for college.

This paper summarizes some of the recent trends in college costs and financial aid, and the impact of these trends on students as well as colleges and universities. It describes some approaches taken by both institutions and states to understand this impact, and to respond to concerns about affordability and college participation from both the student and institutional perspective. This paper will help inform those who are concerned with college affordability, along with the impact of rising costs and tuition prices on students and institutions alike.

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