Not all first-year college students are equally concerned about covering the costs of their education. The latest freshman survey report by the Higher Education Research Institute based at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) reveals divisions along gender, ethnic, and economic lines.
The annual survey, based on responses from 137,456 full-time freshmen at 184 U.S. colleges and universities, showed 55.9% of respondents overall were feeling some level of concern about college costs.
However, 15.8% of female students said they were very worried about costs, compared to just 10.1% of male students. The gap widened among racial groups: 24.7% of Latino freshmen and 22% of black freshmen expressed major concerns about paying for school, but only 9.2% of white students did. Conversely, more than half of female, Latino, and black freshmen thought they had a “very good chance” of landing a job during school to help finance those costs, but less than half of white and Asian freshmen thought they’d be able to find work.
Some 15% of students said they had to give up their first choice of school because of cost, the largest percentage since the question was included on the survey in 2004. More of these students also indicated they hadn’t been offered financial aid by their top choice.
There was a hopeful note in the survey report, though: “Although concerns about the cost of attending college and strategies to finance college continue to be at the forefront of students’ and parents’ minds, first-time, full-time students entering college in the fall of 2016 placed less weight than previous cohorts on economic considerations when deciding whether to pursue higher education; instead, they drew their motivation for a college degree from a place of personal and intellectual development.”