ASPIRA of Florida Main Office

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Miami, FL 33126

                   Voice: (305) 269-6767

                   Fax: (305) 269-6722

 

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ASPIRA of Florida

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College Affordability A Rising Concern For Florida College-Ready Students

~Sixty-two percent of the students in Florida public schools come from limited income families~

Tampa, FL- According to a report released today by ENLACE Florida, a crisis of financial need is looming, threatening to put higher education out of reach for college-ready students.   The report highlights that the rising costs of higher education in Florida have outpaced the growth in financial aid programs, including Pell and Bright Futures leading to a significant increase of the average annual debt taken out by college students.  In 1995, undergraduate students in Florida borrowed an average of $2,968 per year; in 2008, undergraduates in Florida borrowed an average $4,719.  “These students may be entering the workforce with their financial future already at risk,” said Paul Dosal, Ph.D., Executive Director for ENLACE Florida.  The report suggests that the college financial burden on Florida families is too high.  In 2000, the average family in Florida had to dedicate only 12% of total family income to meet the net costs of attending college; in 2008, the average family in Florida had to dedicate 18% of total family income.  “Primarily those in the family income range of $40,000 to $60,000 who are not likely to receive Pell Grants, will have to rely even more on state grants, loans, and family contributions to finance their education,” said Dosal.  The number of limited-income students in Florida has been increasing at an alarming rate since 1990.  In 2000, 44% of students in Florida public schools were from low-income families; by 2006, the number of limited income students in our public schools reached 62%.  “With such high financial need within the K-12 student body, one would expect Florida’s college financial aid system to acknowledge and help meet the need of its students looking to further their education” said Braulio Colón, Assistant Director for ENLACE Florida.  Nationally in 2006-07, 63% of undergraduate state aid dollars in the United States was allocated on the basis of financial need; in that academic year, only 21% of Florida’s financial aid was allocated on the basis of financial need.  “The current financial aid system compels too many students to take out higher debts, take fewer courses, work longer hours, or just drop out,” said Dosal.  “A financial aid system that reduces their work hours, limits their debts, and increases their time in the classroom and study hall will lead to higher graduation and retention rates—more degrees to serve the economic needs of Florida.”