A survey of the nation’s college freshmen indicates a class of young adults stressed out about the cost of financing a degree, even if they’re relatively well off.
The study by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute lends new insight into not only the concerns young college students have about their debt loads, but also the effects high-school experiences have on their attitudes about higher education.
The survey explored in great detail how students at four-year schools who receive Pell grants—a federal grant that’s issued largely to low-income students and maxes out at just under $6,000 a year—differ in their perceptions about college from freshmen who didn’t receive Pell awards. For starters, slightly more than a quarter of the freshmen in this report indicated they received a Pell grant. Black and Hispanic freshmen, at just above 50 percent each, were three times as likely as white students to report they received Pell grants. These figures may be different from other national tallies because the UCLA report only looks at four-year nonprofit colleges and universities.
Students who fund part of their college tuition through Pell grants are much more likely to worry about their ability to pay for a postsecondary degree, according to the survey. More than eight in 10 Pell recipients felt this way, compared to just more than half of non-Pell freshmen. The survey also found that only around one third of Pell recipients felt they could turn to their families for financial support of $3,000 or more to cover their first year of educational expenses, compared to nearly 73 percent for non-Pell freshmen.