More than 9 out of 10 Asian American students — including those from wealthy households — have unmet financial aid needs, noted a report released last month by the Center for Law and Social Policy.
Asian Americans have the highest rate of unmet financial aid needs, higher than African American or Latino students, noted CLASP, analyzing 2015-16 data from the Department of Education.
“While some Asian-American subpopulations are as financially secure as whites, many others live in deep poverty,” noted Lauren Walizer, the author of the study. She hypothesized that the disparity could also be influenced by international students from Asia who cannot pay in-state tuition and have limited access to aid.
Walizer did not comment on Indian American H-1B children, who are no longer considered dependents once they turn 18, and must apply to universities as international students, at a much higher rate of tuition. For example, the cost for in-state tuition at one of the nine University of California campuses is $14,164 for the 2018-19 college year. But out-of-state students, including H-1B formerly dependent children who reside in the state but are considered international students, must pay a supplemental fee of almost $29,000 per year.
Walizer also hypothesized that Asian American students from middle-class families do not qualify for Pell Grants, which are overwhelmingly awarded to students whose household incomes are under $50,000.
Asian Americans at the bottom of the economic strata, who are attending a two-year community college, have unmet financial aid needs of about $8,507 per year. Even students from wealthy families attending community college have unmet financial aid needs of $1,659 per year.
At public four-year colleges and universities, low income Asian American students have unmet financial aid needs of $16,756 per year. Those from middle-class homes have $12-14,000 in unmet financial need, while those from high-income families are still in need of more than $4,600 per year.
The disparity is greatest with Asian American students attending private, not-for-profit colleges and universities. Low income students face $26,718 in unmet financial needs per year, while Asian American students from high net-worth families face a shortfall of $12,000 per year.
Asian American students at for-profit universities faced a shortfall ranging from $15,000 to $21,000, according to the report.
“Unmet need can be considered a rough measure of our nation’s underinvestment in students that highlights the gap between expectations of affordability and reality,” concluded CLASP in its report. “When
policymakers don’t address unmet need, college becomes increasingly unaffordable and inaccessible for all students but particularly students of color, who comprise a growing share of our nation’s college-going population.”
“Equitable access to post-secondary education that is both affordable and high-quality is essential to creating a productive and dynamic economy,” stated the organization, recommending several changes in policy that could close the unmet financial needs gap.