U.S. colleges such as Boston University are using financial aid to lure rich students while shortchanging the poor, forcing those most in need to take on heavy debt, a report found, Bloomberg reports. Almost two-thirds of private institutions require students from families making $30,000 or less annually to pay more than $15,000 a year, according to the report released today by the Washington-based New America Foundation. The research analyzing U.S. Education Department data for the 2010-2011 school year undercuts the claims of many wealthy colleges that financial-aid practices make their institutions affordable, said Stephen Burd, the report’s author. He singled out schools — including Boston University and George Washington University — that appear especially pricey for poor families. “Colleges are always saying how committed they are to admitting low-income students — that they are all about equality,” Burd said in a phone interview. “This data shows there’s been a dramatic shift. The pursuit of prestige and revenue has led them to focus more on high-income students.” … To increase their standing on college rankings, more private colleges are giving “merit aid” to top students, who are often affluent, while charging unaffordable prices to the needy, according to the report. The percentage of students receiving merit aid jumped to 44 percent in 2007-2008 from 24 percent in 1995-1996, the report found.
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