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Lindsay Page, Judith Scott-Clayton
Despite an initial increase in college-educated adults in the latter half of the 20th century, recent years have seen those numbers plateau, particularly among lower-income families. College cost, as it is being placed more and more on students and less and less on states is becoming a larger portion of family income. Because of a number of barriers including FAFSA complexity, standardized testing failures, remedial placement misconceptions, and alternative action policies, students are increasingly higher class despite massive policy and programmatic efforts to make college affordable for all. These policies often have flaws, such as the barriers listed above, that create unintended results
Higher education is directly linked to creating more civically engaged citizens, better school preparation in the subsequent generation, lower crime rates, and more individual economic growth. Therefore, educating a greater segment of the population should affect all of these areas. Additionally, the limit that rising costs of higher education impose on low-income families is inhibiting their economic abilities. Not having access to information about economic options limits these families, and only serves to perpetuate economic disparity. Because of the variety of barriers to college access, targeting affordability is not enough. There is no panacea to this issue, but policy targeting a variety of areas can create incremental change.