Eliot Feldman, President, Higher Education Consulting Services, LLC

Eliot is a dynamic executive leader with a passion for coaching, higher education business development, and leadership. With a focus on optimizing the customer experience, he has an exceptional track record of accelerating individual and business growth, building high-performing teams, and supporting sustainable growth. Eliot’s expertise in talent career, college, and business coaching has helped him develop a loyal base of customers, and his commitment to enabling individuals and companies to thrive is truly inspiring. He has worked for prestigious organizations such as Wiley, The NJ Council for Community Colleges, DeVry, and Herzing Universities, and holds a bachelor’s degree from the New York Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in business administration from Keller Graduate School of Management. Eliot’s passion for his work and dedication to professional development make him a true leader in his field.


College affordability is a complex and multifaceted issue that has far-reaching implications for students from lower-income families. These students, despite facing significant financial barriers to accessing higher education due to rising tuition, fees, textbooks, and living expenses, possess immense potential. Attending college, though it may seem like an unattainable dream for many economically disadvantaged students, could be the key to unlocking their future opportunities.

Lower-income students often depend on student loans to fund their education, resulting in higher student loan debt compared to their higher-income counterparts. This places a significant financial strain on students from low-income families, who may require additional financial support to repay their loans after graduating. Lower-income students find it challenging to repay their loans, leading to long-term financial difficulties that can impact their lives. Approximately 70% of college students stress about their finances, with a significant portion of this stress attributed to student loan debt. This financial burden frequently causes students to neglect their studies, reduce their course loads, or even take breaks from their education (The Ohio State University News) (PolitiFact).

Additionally financial stress related to college affordability can have severe negative impacts on lower-income students’ academic performance and overall well-being. These students may have to work longer hours at part-time jobs or take on additional responsibilities to support themselves financially, detracting from their ability to focus on their studies and succeed academically. This can lead to poorer academic performance or even dropping out of college, which can limit their future job prospects and earning potential. Moreover, the stress and anxiety associated with financial struggles can significantly affect their mental health and overall well-being.

College affordability can also impact the choice of institution and major for lower-income students. Financial constraints may limit their options, with students more likely to attend lower-cost institutions or pursue majors that they perceive as having better job prospects and higher earning potential, rather than pursuing their passion or areas of interest. This can limit their future job opportunities, leading to a career that they may not enjoy.

College affordability can impact graduation rates among lower-income students. Financial challenges may force some students to drop out of college before completing their degree due to the inability to afford tuition and other expenses. This can have long-term consequences for their career prospects and earning potential, perpetuating cycles of poverty. These cycles of poverty refer to the situation where individuals and families remain in poverty for multiple generations, often due to a lack of access to education and job opportunities.

The affordability of higher education can have intergenerational effects on lower-income families. When parents are unable to afford college, their children may also face financial barriers to accessing higher education, perpetuating cycles of poverty and limiting opportunities for upward social mobility.

Higher education institutions must prioritize affordability and implement effective strategies to address these challenges. Some ways to ensure that all students have access to affordable higher education are increasing financial aid and scholarship opportunities for lower-income students, implementing income-based tuition models, adopting holistic admissions processes, expanding support services, and establishing partnerships with community organizations, government agencies, and businesses.

Increasing financial aid and scholarship opportunities for lower-income students is not just a step, but a leap towards making higher education more accessible and affordable. Need-based grants, merit-based scholarships, and tuition waivers for students from low-income backgrounds can significantly alleviate the financial burden on economically disadvantaged students, leveling the playing field and ensuring all students have access to affordable higher education.

Holistic admissions processes that consider students’ socioeconomic backgrounds, personal experiences, and academic achievements can help ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to access higher education. These approaches go beyond just looking at academic scores and take into account the unique circumstances and challenges that students from lower-income families may have faced. This can also help identify promising students from diverse backgrounds who may have overcome significant socioeconomic challenges.

Expanding support services for lower-income students can help address their unique needs and challenges. Academic advising, tutoring, counseling, career services, and mentorship programs designed to help students navigate the college experience and achieve academic success can alleviate financial stress and help students succeed academically.

To address students’ basic needs, many colleges and universities are establishing food pantries, emergency housing assistance programs, and other support services to help students meet their basic needs and stay focused on their studies. These programs help alleviate the financial burden on lower-income students and help them succeed in college.

Finally, higher education institutions can partner with a variety of entities to address socioeconomic challenges facing lower-income families. These partnerships may involve collaborative efforts to provide financial literacy education, job training programs, and other resources to support students and their families. For instance, a university could partner with a local community organization to offer financial literacy workshops for students and their families. They could also partner with a government agency to provide job training programs for students who may need additional skills to secure higher-paying jobs. And they could partner with local businesses to offer internships and job opportunities for students. By working together, these partnerships can ensure that all students have access to affordable higher education and break the cycle of poverty.

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