Study Flunks 49 States in College Affordability

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press
Failed Test --- Image by © Jeffrey Coolidge/Corbis

Failed Test --- Image by © Jeffrey Coolidge/Corbis

An independent report on American higher education flunks all but one state when it comes to affordability -- an embarrassing verdict that is unlikely to improve as the economy contracts.

The biennial study by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, which evaluates how well higher education is serving the public, handed out Fs for affordability to 49 states, up from 43 two years ago.

Only California received a passing grade in the category, a C, thanks to its relatively inexpensive community colleges.

The report card uses a range of measurements to give states grades, from A to F, on the performance of their public and private colleges. The affordability grade is based on how much of the average family's income it costs to go to college.

In Georgia, where the merit-based HOPE scholarship has sent hundreds of thousands of students to college with full tuition, students still have to borrow an average of $4,653 in loans each year. That's up from $2,876 eight years ago.

On the report card, Georgia received an F in affordability, a C minus in preparation, a D minus in participation, a B minus in completion and a B minus in benefits to the state.

The report criticizes Georgia for its low high school completion rate -- 84 percent of Georgians earn a diploma by age 24, which has slipped from 86 percent in the 1990s.

That's among the lowest completion rates in the country.

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