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Beyond the 49th Parallel - The Affordability of Public University Education

March 28, 2006 - This report looks at the affordability of public 4-year post-secondary education in 50 US States and 10 Canadian provinces. It includes examinations of education and living costs, as well as the impacts of various types of public subsidies for students (grants, loans and tax expenditures), all in the context of state/provincial median household income. Jurisdictions are ranked on six separate masures of "affordability", an established methodology is then used to convert these into a single composite affordability score.


Public 4-year post-secondary education was found to be more affordable in the United States on five of the six affordability measures in the report; on the sixth, the two countries were tied. In general, in the United States, poorer states tend to be more affordable both because tuition is usually low compared to other states and because federal student aid acts as an equalizing force. In Canada, poorer provinces tend to be less affordable both because tuition is higher than in other provinces and because the tendency of wealthier provinces to spend more heavily on student aid counteracts the equalizing effects of federal student aid programs. Click here to download the full report.




The Educational Policy Institute (EPI), a non-profit, non-partisan research organization, with offices in Virginia Beach (US), Toronto (CAN), and Melbourne (AUS), is dedicated to policy-based research on educational opportunity for all students. The mission of EPI is to expand educational opportunity for low-income and other historically underrepresented students through high-level research and analysis. is EPI's subsidiary devoted to the study and dissemination of best practices related to student success and excellence. EPI releases a bi-monthly publication, Student Success, focusing on best practices and institutional strategies. Sign up at or for your free download.