College & Workforce Readiness

Reports Examine College Costs, High School Counseling

By Catherine Gewertz — October 21, 2009 1 min read

Two new reports track the effect of the economy on college costs, admissions, and counseling.

One study, by the College Board, finds college tuition and fees are rising faster than they have in recent years, and that grants are playing a bigger role in helping students manage those costs. (See stories in The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. And see a delightfully snarky take on it by Kevin Carey over at the Quick and the Ed.)

Rep. George Miller said the College Board report shows the need for the federal government to expand access to government aid for college.

Another study out this week reports on college-admissions trends, and finds that acceptance rates are down slightly since 2001 because the numbers of applicants and applications have risen.

The survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling also finds some interesting college-related trends at the high school level. Nearly half the counselors reported that their schools were planning ways to help students deal with economic uncertainty, most by hosting more financial-aid sessions.

The NACAC report also highlights once again a problem that takes on particular urgency as financial aid plays a larger role in students’ ability to manage college: the lack of counseling capacity in high schools. The study found that public school counselors spend less than a quarter of their time on postsecondary counseling (private school counselors spend more than half their time on this).

The typical student load for a public school counselor is 246 students and rising due to increased enrollments. And only one third of public high schools report having a counselor whose primary job is to provide college and career counseling. Combine numbers like those with the fact that many students’ families lack the knowledge necessary to guide them on postsecondary options, and you get an immense unmet need.

A version of this news article first appeared in the High School Connections blog.