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dc.contributor.authorHill, Catharine B.en_US
dc.contributor.authorWinston, Gordon C.en_US
dc.contributor.authorBoyd, Stephanieen_US
dc.description.abstractCollege tuition is frequently compared, in press and politics, to the US medianfamily income. That is, however, a highly misleading benchmark since schools withneed-based financial aid rarely charge students from median income families the reportedsticker price.Working from the financial aid records of individual students at twenty-eighthighly selective private colleges and universities (COFHE schools), we addressed twoquestions: what do the highly able low income students at these schools actually pay, netof financial aid grants, for a year?s education and how do these schools differentiate theirprices in recognition of the different family incomes of their students – the concreteevidence of their dedication to equality of opportunity? The answer to the first questionis that while there is considerable variety in net prices, many of these expensive schoolscharge their low income students very little (one, less than $800 a year for the averagestudent in the bottom income quintile), making it quite reasonable for a highly ablestudent to aspire to go to a very selective private college or university regardless offamily income. The second answer also reveals considerable variety among schools.Virtually all of them charge students in the bottom income quintile a lower net price, onaverage, than they do their wealthier students, but at some, net price as a share of familyincome rises as incomes increase while at others it falls. Most, however, follow pricingpolicies that embody rough proportionality between net price and family income over thewhole range of the student incomes, including those paying the full sticker price. The netprices that remain to be paid by aided students are covered, of course, by direct paymentand ?self-help? – loans and student jobs.In these data, the error in the popular representation of tuition and income is clear:the average sticker price is 66% of median US family income but the average student atthat level pays just 23% of family income.en_US
dc.relation.ispartofseries|aWPEHE discussion paper series / Williams College, Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education |x66en_US
dc.titleAffordability: Family Incomes and Net Prices At Highly Selective Private Colleges and Universitiesen_US
dc.typeWorking Paperen_US

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