Goal 4: Maintain Access, Affordability and Enhance Diversity
Strategy 4.3: Allocate Additional Funds from Tuition for Need-Based Student Aid
Especially in an era of economic downturn, college costs are obviously a major barrier for low-income and nontraditional students. Costs are becoming a more significant problem for families of moderate-income levels but insufficient net worth to comfortably support higher education for family members. This is a situation often encountered by first-generation college students and others who have recently entered the middle class. As tuition has increased in recent years, Penn State has allocated additional funding for need-based student financial aid each year, including funds to match Trustee Scholarships that are awarded to high-achieving students with high need. This funding has allowed for more students from lower- and lower-middle-income families and first-generation college students to attend the University than would otherwise have been possible. Yet, the gap between available aid and need is growing each year. This pattern of setting aside some of the additional revenue from tuition increases for more need-based student aid must be continued and expanded when the financial condition of the University’s budget permits. This is a substantial benefit for all campuses, perhaps especially the Commonwealth campuses, where the family income of students is generally notably lower than at University Park.