- More than 40% of higher ed students attend community college, and roughly as many work at least 30 hours a week, with 25% working full-time while going to school full-time. Another 38% can't afford to be enrolled full-time.
- Roughly one-fourth of all students are older than 25, and the same percentage are raising children of their own, according to a new analysis of current student demographics conducted by The New York Times.
- Housing, transportation and childcare continue to be the biggest financial barriers for students, even when tuition and fees are covered.
In many places, campuses have pulled back on childcare centers in favor of new state-of-the-art dorm rooms. However, the price tag associated with the latter is driving up the cost of college so much that while institutions' aspirational student may be able to enjoy the luxury accommodations, the more typical — and prevalent — students are priced out. If one-in-four students is over the age of 25, and the same number are raising children, it is likely these students will not be living in the dorm. When you add another 38% of students who are attending part-time, it seems the majority of the students are skipping the dorm experience. This means institutions are better off redirecting those funds to services like childcare centers and shuttles to popular public areas to help get students to campus.
The other important thing to consider is free tuition scholarships and programs which only kick in after all financial aid has been applied don't actually help these students as much as it would seem. Tuition scholarships which are applied before financial aid is considered allow students to apply refunds from financial aid to outside expenses. In fact, a great number of students rely on these refunds to pay for books, rent, food, childcare and other expenses. Without the account surplus, many of these students still have to work more hours, which comprises learning and can delay graduation when they have to reduce their courseloads.