The question is, who's gonna pay?

The increasing use of these private loans is a clear concern.

Financial aid is the fastest-growing component of institutional budgets.

Most schools don't have enough grant dollars to meet the full needs of their students, so they have to decided whom to give it to. There is merit component to need-based aid. There also are schools that award merit-based aid but only to students with need.

The maximum contribution remains at $4,000. Therefore the Pell Grant covers a smaller and smaller portion of students' total tuition costs.

Not about academic preparation; it's about money.

What it means is that they'll have to borrow a little more money and repay it at a higher interest rate.

The published price bears so little relationship to the price you're going to pay. The schools that have the highest prices often have the most financial aid available.

You don't have to be poor to get need-based aid at an expensive private college.