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Unmet Financial Need Is Rising

December 11, 2018

Unmet financial need, meaning the gap between the cost of college and all student resources that do not need to be repaid, grew by 23 percent between 2012 and 2016, according to an analysis of federal data that the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) released today.

Nearly three in four college students in the U.S. experience unmet need. At community colleges, 71 percent of students have some unmet need, with an average amount of $4,920. Unmet need is higher at four-year institutions, the group found, with students of color and low-income students more likely to have it -- at significantly higher amounts.

"Unmet need can be considered a rough measure of our nation’s underinvestment in students that highlights the gap between expectations of affordability and reality," concludes the analysis, which was authored by Lauren Walizer, a senior policy analyst with CLASP's Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success. "When policymakers don’t address unmet need, college becomes increasingly unaffordable and inaccessible for all students but particularly students of color, who comprise a growing share of our nation’s college-going population."

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Paul Fain

Paul Fain, Contributing Editor, came to Inside Higher Ed in September 2011, after a six-year stint covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Paul has also worked in higher ed P.R., with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn't stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., Paul has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper and Mother Jones. He's won a few journalism awards, including one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Paul got hooked on journalism while working too many hours at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fain plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

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