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Financial Aid and Access to Higher Education

One of the primary barriers to college enrollment is the financial outlay required to attend. According to the College Board, during the 2009–2010 school year, the average total cost of a public 4-year college or university was $15,213. This amounts to about 30% of the median annual family income. Concerns about affordability are even greater at private 4-year colleges and universities, which had a total cost of $35,636 that year.

To help families deal with the expense and encourage college enrollment, the federal and state governments spent more than $168 billion in 2008 to 2009 on financial aid, which primarily takes the form of grants that do not have to be repaid and loans that must be repaid after graduation. The largest aid program is ...

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