Poorest Students Feel the Bite of Rising College Costs

Josh Mitchell Andrea Fuller:

Students from the poorest households are shouldering more of the pain from rising college costs, borrowing at far higher levels as a share of family income than ever.

As college costs have increased faster than government grants and scholarship money in the past two decades, poor students have been taking on more debt for tuition as well as for living expenses.

It is now the norm for U.S. students from the lowest income bracket to borrow at least half of their household income to attend most four-year colleges. At 58% of 1,319 four-year colleges with available federal data, students from households earning $30,000 or less a year left those schools during the 2013 and 2014 school years owing a median $15,000 or more in total debt, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.