If you think that it’s getting outrageously expensive to get an education, you wouldn’t be wrong. Some quick facts from Strapped, a new book from Demos, a group focused on income inequality.

Did you know?

Every year, 410,000 college-qualified students from households with income less than $50,000 enroll in community college instead of going to a four-year college. Another 168,000 college-qualified students do not enroll in college at all.

The maximum Pell Grant award, the nation’s premier program for helping poor kids pay for college, covers about one-third of the costs of a four-year college today. It covered three-quarters in the 1970s.

In 1948, veterans received a grant of $500 a year, enough to pay for all but $25 of tuition at Harvard. In 2003, the average federal grant to students was $2,421, which falls $24,000 short of tuition and fees at Harvard.

In 1977, college students borrowed about $6 billion (2002 dollars) to help pay for college. College students borrowed $56 billion in 2003. The number of students enrolled in college grew by 44 percent between 1977 and 2003, but student loan volume rose by 833 percent.

Three-quarters of full-time college students are holding down jobs.

Only 53 percent of all students who enroll in four-year colleges end up getting their bachelors degree within 5 years.

Nearly three-quarters of students at the nation’s top 146 colleges come from families in the top quarter of the socioeconomic status scale (SES). Only 3 percent are from the lowest SES quartile and only 10 percent are from the entire bottom half of the SES distribution.

The Advisory Committee on Student Financial Aid Assistance projects that if current enrollment trends persist, over the next decade 4.4 million college-ready students from households with income below $50,000 will not attend a four-year college and 2 million students will not attend any college.

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