The bar graph says it all: low income students at the most competitive schools pay less out of pocket than students at two-year public institutions. I knew that our most competitive schools spent quite a bit on supporting the low-income students that they accept, but I wasn’t aware it was to this degree.
The problem, of course, is getting accepted. You need to be a top student, and you need to sound interesting on your college application. But don’t fail to apply because you think you can’t afford it. If you get in, you’ll be covered.
The bar graph is almost a perfect bell curve in terms of student out-of-pocket expenses (the darker green bars). The students who pay the most out of pocket are those in the middle competitiveness categories, followed by those with somewhat higher and somewhat lower competitiveness, followed by those who are the most and the least competitive. It may well be that if you can’t get into an Ivy League school, your best bet financially is to start out at a community college and then to transfer into a four year from there.