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Students Now Carrying Larger Burden of College Costs

As more and more colleges are spending less and less money on their students, it seems that those same students are picking up the slack even in the face of rising tuition costs. According to the results of a new study based on public information reported by schools to the federal government, college students are covering more of their education costs than ever before, while at the same time funds allotted by schools toward instruction have steadily diminished.

It describes a system that is increasingly stratified: the smallest number of students - about 1 million out of a total 18 million students - attend the private research universities that spend the most per student. The largest number of students - 6 million - attend community colleges, which spend the least per student, and have cut spending most sharply as government aid has declined.

"Students are paying more, and a greater share of the costs, but are arguably getting less," said Jane Wellman, the executive director of the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity and Accountability, which drafted the study.

Strangely, the report indicated that funds allotted toward instruction rose the most at traditionally research-based private institutions -- somewhat paradoxical considering the instructional needs of research institutions versus schools where instruction and bachelor degrees are supposedly the primary focus. Unfortunately, until the state of the economy improves, Wellman expects the situation to get worse before it gets better: "We see the picture ahead being more of the same, but dramatically more of the same."

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