State universities, which have a public responsibility to provide students with access to an affordable education, are giving a growing share of their grants to wealthier students, and a declining share to the poorest students.
Public universities are increasingly mimicking private colleges by using financial aid to further their own goals, such as enrolling students who will bring revenue or boost their spots in the rankings.
Industry consultants who help schools with what’s called “financial-aid leveraging” say their clients at public universities are trying to offset budget cuts by using aid to enroll students who can “positively impact the bottom line.”
State schools have been serving a shrinking portion of the nation’s needy students. More of those students have been heading to community colleges and for-profit schools.