|Half of families can't afford college
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Making sense of it all
Taken as a whole, the results seem to point to an unavoidable trap where parents either secure their children's futures or their own. "The poll illustrates that for many households, paying for college will mean sacrificing their long-term financial security by taking out second mortgages or personal loans," says Draut. "This is particularly true for those parents on the cusp of retirement age, who need to focus on securing their own financial future for retirement."
McBride agrees. "Unfortunately,
some of the conclusions seem to correlate to actual
behavior, such as the lack of priority given to retirement
savings and the emphasis on maintaining present lifestyle,"
With college enrollment numbers steadily
increasing, it's hard to understand how the consequences
could really be this serious. "The larger context
of the poll findings are that college tuition has
become priced out of reach for most households,"
Draut says. "While the nation's primary lever
for helping lower- and middle-income students pay
for college ... the federal financial aid system ...
has grown anemic."
Without action on the personal or policy front, the cost of passing children the key to the middle class may well prove too dear for half the nation; the alternative is driving them into debt, making that entry less certain.
|-- Posted: Sept. 17, 2007