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Mar 24, 2017 11:32 AM EDT

The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) conducted a study to find out whether colleges in the United States are affordable or not. Unfortunately, as much as 95 percent of American schools remain to be impossible dreams for low-income students.

According to The Atlantic, the majority of middle-class students do not have a lot of choices for college because their futures are already limited even before applying. On the contrary, students from high-income families could pay for as much as 90 percent of the more than 2,000 sample colleges used in the study. To further illustrate, the researchers used a $160,000 earning to identify the rich families while $69,000 to differentiate the less fortunate.

IHEP took 10 theoretical students with incomes ranging from $2,706 to a whopping $162,995. The researchers then calculated how many of these samples could reasonably pay for college using the Lumina Foundation's affordability benchmark. IHEP then partnered with College Abacus to analyze the net price of all the sample schools. The net price is the basic tuition fee excluding the scholarship aids.

The organization later found out that 60 percent of the schools are still not affordable for families earning $100,000 annually. Affordability, meanwhile, has been defined as the capability to pay for college through a combination of family savings and individual earnings from a student working 10 hours a week. "What we found is a pretty bleak picture of the state of college affordability," Mamie Voight, IHEP policy-research VP, said in previous statements.

Voight added that there is a huge disparity in terms of opportunities between high-income students and the low-income ones. Meanwhile, per Market Watch, some US colleges and lawmakers have been trying to make education cheaper, if not free for all. Stanford University covers the tuition fee for students coming from families earning around $125,000 a year.

Luckily, lawmakers in New York are also proposing to make public colleges free for middle-class families. However, the structure of the plan rarely benefits the poor students. For one thing, it uses the "last dollar" model, which means it enters to fund the remainder of the cost of tuition after other state and federal grants are taken into account.

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