The Financial Outlook in Higher Education

Written by: Casey Miles

Primary Source: Writing Rhetoric and American Cultures

On the heels of Michigan’s two largest universities announcing tuition hikes I felt it pertinent to remind us “7 in 10 Undergraduates Get Financial Aid” (Chronicle of Higher Education). Put into another statistic, that’s 71% (according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics). At Michigan State we have roughly 38,000 undergraduates (MSU Facts), meaning that nearly 26,500 of those students are using some sort of financial aid.

The picture is a bit different for graduate students, quoting from Beckie Supiano’s CoHE piece,

“The share of graduate students receiving any aid dropped from 73 percent in 2007-8 to 70 percent in 2011-12. And the makeup of the aid those students received also changed. The share of graduate students receiving grants dropped from 41 percent in 2007-8 to 36 precent in 2011-12, while the share receiving loans grew from 42 percent in 2007-8 to 45 percent in 2011-12. The average amount that graduate students borrowed from all sources also increased, from $18,400 in 2007-8 to $21,400 in 2011-12.”

In short, funding is down, while borrowing is up. Thus more and more working-age adults are entering the job market only to start working off mountains of student loan debt, not to mention the credit card debt that often comes for undergrads and grad students alike. Of more concern, perhaps, is how these numbers cut across hugely important factors like race, socioeconomic and immigration statuses, age, abilities, sex and gender, and place (like specific states, or urban, suburban, and rural locales). These considerations are key to figuring out where we go from here.

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Casey Miles
Casey Miles is PhD student in Rhetoric & Writing, with a master’s degree in Digital Rhetoric & Professional Writing. Casey’s research focuses on queer rhetorics, specifically looking at butch ways of knowing, doing, and being in academic spaces, as well as documentary and video composition. Casey continues to work on her documentary series, The Gender Project, which explores gender, gender identity, and sexuality in everyday lives. Follow her on Twitter @soulsmiles