The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a Democratic plan to reduce the cost of borrowing for college. But easing student-loan interest rates won't provide much relief, critics say, unless lawmakers can somehow also slow the inexorable rise in the cost of college.</p>
<p>For academic year 2006-07, the average cost of tuition, room and board at a public university was $12,796; for a private school, the total averaged $30,367. </p>
<p>During the same period, the amount of federal direct aid ? money that doesn't have to be repaid ? has declined, forcing more students to borrow. Nearly two-thirds of college graduates leave school with debt, up from less than half in 1993, according to the non-profit Project on Student Debt. And among those with loans, the average debt has jumped from $9,250 in 1993 to $19,200, a 58% increase after adjustment for inflation.</p>
<p>An even more troubling trend, some analysts say, is a shift toward merit-based aid and tax credits. This type of aid tends to go to students from more affluent families, Duderstadt says.</p>
<p>"You now have this horrible dilemma in which students from prosperous backgrounds are getting more financial aid than students from impoverished backgrounds," he says.