Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Paying for college in Colorado is tough, new analysis shows

Posted By on Tue, Dec 4, 2018 at 7:10 PM

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How do you determine whether a higher education institution is affordable? According to the Lumina Foundation's "Rule of 10," students should be able to pay for college by saving 10 percent of their discretionary income for 10 years, and working 10 hours a week while in school.

Sounds reasonable enough, right? But only 52 percent of Colorado's universities are affordable by that definition, according to a new analysis based on statewide median household incomes for college students.

The analysis — conducted by the Lumina Foundation, a private foundation with the goal of expanding access to higher education, and Young Invincibles, a policy research and advocacy organization — applied the net prices of Colorado's institutions (cost of attendance minus grant aid) to the Rule of 10 to determine affordability for different groups of students.

According to the analysis, none of Colorado's institutions are affordable for students with housing insecurity, defined as those spending more than 35 percent of household income on rent. Eight percent of institutions are affordable for student parents and returning students, and 12 percent are affordable for student workers, the analysis found.

The median net cost of attending a four-year school in Colorado is $18,831 a year, the report found.

In order to afford that per the Rule of 10, you'd have to earn at least $18.11 an hour, or $37,660 a year, in discretionary income.

That's assuming you save 10 percent of your extra income for 10 years, work 10 hours a week during school, and contribute all of your discretionary income during school to your education.

Seeing as the state minimum wage is $10.20, that might be hard to do without a college degree.
And the least affordable private school in Colorado, the University of Denver, costs nearly twice that — $32,940 a year. The least affordable public school is Colorado School of Mines, at $25,097.

Colorado Mountain College had the most affordable net cost at $3,297 a year. The most affordable private school, Johnson & Wales University- Denver, costs $23,765.

How does Colorado compare to other states? While Young Invincibles doesn't have an overarching national analysis, it published fact sheets on Illinois and California the same day Colorado's were posted.

Young Invincibles considers 38 percent of California's institutions to be affordable for those making the student household median income, and only 27 percent of Illinois'. The median net cost of attending a four-year school is $18,989 in California and $27,708 in Illinois.

So, Colorado may not be all that bad...?

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