Student Aid

May 23, 1986

Report Outline
Pending Cutbacks
Shaping National Policy
Coping with Costs
Special Focus

Pending Cutbacks

U.S. Aid in Jeopardy to 790,000 Students

Not since 1981—when the Reagan administration first proposed drastic cuts in aid to higher education—have college students and their parents been so uncertain about the availability of federal funds for the fall. Barring a congressional bailout, which remains at least a slim possibility, about 790,000 students will see their federal grants eliminated or reduced because of a shortfall in the Education Department's budget. The Gramm-Rudman-Hollings act, which requires progressive cuts in the federal deficit, contributed to the current problem and could make matters even worse in coming years.

Heightened uncertainty about federal aid conies at a time when college costs have risen at about twice the rate of inflation for four consecutive years, with only a moderate decline expected for 1986–87. Tuition and fees increased roughly 7 percent for the 1985–86 school year compared with a 3.7 percent rise in the Consumer Price Index during the same period. Average total expenses for a full-time undergraduate this year came to $5,314 at a public college and $9,659 at a private college, according to The College Board.

Educators despair that federal aid programs have not kept pace with rapidly rising college costs. During the Reagan administration, aid from all federal programs has fallen 10 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, The College Board reports. The administration maintains that the drop is justified because middle-class parents have grown too dependent on federal aid when they should be spending more of their own money to educate their children. “Is it the responsibility of the federal government to meet every increase in tuition and fees?” asks Robert Jamroz, an Education Department spokesman, “Are we going to say that colleges can balance their budgets on federal student aid?”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
College Financing
Oct. 25, 2019  College Costs
Nov. 18, 2016  Student Debt
Oct. 21, 2011  Student Debt
Jan. 25, 2008  Student Aid
Dec. 05, 2003  Rising College Costs
Nov. 20, 1992  Paying for College
May 19, 1989  What's Behind High College Price Tags
May 23, 1986  Student Aid
Aug. 14, 1981  Tuition Tax Credits
Feb. 24, 1971  College Financing
Nov. 27, 1968  Financing of Private Colleges
Mar. 25, 1959  Costs of Education
May 04, 1955  Higher Education For The Millions
Deficit, Federal Debt, and Balanced Budget
Education Policy