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Abstract

A college education is a rite of passage for many young adults in the United States. The rate of college attendance by high school graduates has been growing steadily for more than 20 years. More than six in ten high school graduates now continue their education after high school by attending a postsecondary institution. While the percentage of high school graduates attending college has grown, so has the cost of attending college. College costs since the 1980s have outpaced inflation while families' real incomes have remained stagnant. During this time, inflation adjusted dollars available to students through federal grants and scholarships remained relatively constant. Taken together, these economic factors are a major cause of the crisis of college affordability.

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