Scholarships and College Affordability
College affordability and student loan debt are serious issues for prospective college students. Especially among low-income and first-generation college students, the high costs of tuition, book, housing and transportation along with an aversion to debt create barriers to attaining a college degree. Many students don’t even consider college, attend only part-time (drastically decreasing their likelihood of completion), or drop out because of the high costs they and their families face, even at public universities.
The Cost of College in California
In California, even after government aid like Pell and Cal Grants, an average family of four earning $30,000-$48,000 will be responsible for paying $8,945 annually to attend a California State University (CSU) campus. These families, who qualify for free and reduced lunches in public schools, are faced with paying at least 36% of their discretionary income to put one of their children through college. In an area like Monterey County, in which housing and food costs are higher, college expenses represent even more of a challenge to family budgets.
Why a Degree?
A Bachelor’s degree increases lifetime earnings by $1 million dollars over a high school diploma
This issue is so critical because a bachelor’s degree increases lifetime earnings by $1 million dollars over a high school diploma, changing a family and community’s economic story. However, only 9% of students from the bottom 25% of household incomes complete a bachelor’s degree.
The Importance of Scholarships
A $4,000 scholarship reduces a typical CSU graduate’s debt by 25%, saving them nearly $5,000 over ten years
College scholarships, like the more than 30 programs managed by the Community Foundation, play an important role in helping students with financial need to make paying for college possible. With the average debt for CSU graduates at $17,000, a scholarship of $4,000 reduces the loan balance by almost 25%. When factoring in interest over the typical 10-year repayment period, a $4,000 scholarship reduces reduced a student’s college cost by $4,975.
Are you interested in learning more about how you can support students in attaining a college degree? Learn more about starting or contributing to a scholarship fund or email Christine Dawson, our Vice President of Philanthropic Services.
Are you a student, or do you know a high school or college student? Encourage them to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible (deadline is 3/1/16), apply for the Cal Grant or DREAM Act, start saving, and visit our resources page to connect with more information.