By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – New data from the National Post Secondary Student Aid Study, shows 71% of undergraduates received some form of financial aid in the 2011-2012 academic year, up from 60% four years before. The average amount grew from $9000 to $10,800, capturing effects of the economic downturn.

More people received Pell grants, the main federal support for needy students; borrowing from Stafford loans increased as did parent borrowing from the PLUS program.

Right after publication, President Obama did a two-day bus tour proposing reducing the costs of college, making them more accountable and affordable by ratings based on graduation rates, tuition, debt and percentage of low income students, with the idea that higher-rated colleges might get larger federal grants.

He recommended moving to three-year degrees, free MOOCs – massive open online courses – and dual enrollment programs for high school students.

Learn more about the report in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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