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


This report looks at the affordability of public 4-year post-secondary education in 50 US States and 10 Canadian provinces. This is an update to Dr. Swail’s 2004 report and 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 measures of “affordability;” an established methodology is then used to convert these into a single composite affordability score. The three main conclusions were that there are many possible definitions of affordability which impacts conclusions on which schools are the most affordable, the differences between the two countries on affordability is much smaller than the differences within the two countries, and it is important not to confuse affordability with accessibility (i.e., schools can be affordable and still not allow students from all backgrounds to obtain the education they desire).