Thesis: Losing Ground Is an Analysis That Examines

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Losing Ground

is an analysis that examines the affordability of higher education in the United States. The report is published by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education (herein referred to as NCPPHE or National Center), a non-profit, non-partisan organization whose main advocacy is to stimulate public policies that will improve the effectiveness and accessibility of higher education (NCPPHE, 2002). The findings of the report are based on multiple data sources. It contains information on both public and private education, but with emphasis on public colleges and universities, and the implications of the findings on state policies for affordable higher education.

In this report, the principal basis for assessing the affordability of higher education is to examine tuition and other costs of attending college vis a vis family income. According to the author/s, this perspective best captures the reality of what it really means to pay for college (NCPPHE, 2002). The analysis suggests that most families today, compared to those of 20 years ago, must spend a larger proportion of their income to pay for college. Factors that appear to contribute to this trend include budget cuts in higher education funding, tuition increase, and misappropriation of institutional financial aid. As a result, more students and families at all income levels are borrowing more than ever in order to pay for a college education (NCPPHE, 2002). Thus, the conclusion of the author/s on the issue of higher education affordability is that Americans are "losing ground." (NCPPHE, 2002).

The current paper attempts to argue "Losing Ground" primarily from a consequentialist view. Consequentialist reasoning bases its conclusion on the consequences of certain actions rather than rules (http://web.utk.edu/~nolt/courses/prescrip.html). It is the type of reasoning that is particularly useful when dealing with public policy, where there is likely to be a diversity of moral opinion (http://web.utk.edu/~nolt/courses/prescrip.html).

In this paper, the "conclusion" refers to three (3) of the national trends in the status of higher education in America (NCPPHE, 2002):

(1) Increases in tuition have made colleges and universities less affordable for most American families.

(2) Federal and state financial aid to students has not kept pace with increases in tuition.

(3) Students and families are borrowing more than ever before to pay for college.

II. Overview of Chapter 7, Losing Ground

Much of the National Center report uses data from various sources to come up with the trends mentioned above. However, these trends are no more poignantly illustrated in the report than in Chapter 7, which offers as a look at six students and the challenges they face in paying for college. The profiles do not only reveal the diversity of American college students but also illustrate an overwhelmingly complex lifestyle comprised of concurrent work, study, and sometimes, family commitments. All throughout college, these students juggle these commitments, while finding their path through a web of financial aid forms, part-time jobs, volunteer work, and credit card debt (NCPPHE, 2002). Their stories, written by journalists, is the context of the support for the arguments written in this paper.

Some generalities found among the students' profiles are the following:

1. All students receive multiple financial aid packages. One student had six (6) different sources of financial aid at one point.

2. All students have multiple part-time jobs and/or work-study positions.

3. The students spend up to 40% of their income and grants on tuition fees alone.

4. Almost all students have a debt burden. The debts range from $4,000-$25,000 in subsidized and/or personal loans

III. The Main Arguments of Losing Ground

"Losing Ground" lists down five national trends on the status of college education affordability in America. Only three trends, specifically the major ones, are discussed here.

1. Increases in tuition have made higher education less affordable

The fundamental finding of the report is that most American families have lost ground in college affordability. The supposed primary driver of the increased cost of attending college or university is high tuition rates. Over the last twenty years, the cost of attending two- and four-year public and private colleges has risen faster than inflation and family income (NCPPHE, 2002). As a result, most American families devote larger shares of their income for college education.

Only the wealthiest families have seen their incomes keep pace with tuition fee hikes (College Board; U.S. Census Bureau, 2001, in NCPPHE, 2002). The most affected families are… [END OF PREVIEW]

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