Financial Aid Practices

U.S. colleges such as Boston University are using financial aid to lure rich students while shortchanging the poor, forcing those most in need to take on heavy debt, a report found.

Almost two-thirds of private institutions require students from families making $30,000 or less annually to pay more than $15,000 a year, according to the report released today by the Washington-based New America Foundation.

The research analyzing U.S. Education Department data for the 2010-2011 school year undercuts the claims of many wealthy colleges that financial-aid practices make their institutions affordable, said Stephen Burd, the report’s author. He singled out schools — including Boston University and George Washington University — that appear especially pricey for poor families.

How should colleges balance merit aid for talented students who may not need the money with financial aid for students who come from low-income families?

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