The Great Cost Shift
Completed in early 2012 for Demos, a public policy organization in New York City, The Great Cost Shift: How Higher Education Cuts Undermine The Future Middle Class, examines how state disinvestment in public higher education over the past two decades has shifted costs to students and their families. Such disinvestment has occurred alongside rapidly rising enrollments and demographic shifts that are yielding more economically, racially, and ethnically diverse student bodies. As a result students and their families now pay—or borrow—a lot more for a college degree or are getting priced out of an education that has become a requirement for getting a decent job and entering the middle class.
The study traces trends in the size and composition of the young adult population and analyzes patterns in state support for public higher education over the past two decades. Trends in tuition and financial aid are also examined and policy recommendations are presented for ways to renew America’s commitment to nurturing a strong and inclusive middle class through investments in public higher education.