In this article, Bridget Terry Long and Erin Riley argue that in recent years, U.S. financial aid policy has shifted its emphasis from expanding college access for lowincome students toward defraying the costs for middle- and upper-income families. They explain how loans, merit-based aid, and education tax breaks are increasingly replacing need-based aid and discuss how the declining role of grants may disproportionately disadvantage students already underrepresented in higher education. They document the rise in students' unmet financial needs over the past decade, showing that low-income students and students of color are especially likely to face substantial unmet need even after taking into account all available grants and loans, as well as family contributions. In response to these trends, the authors call for a greater emphasis on need-based aid, especially grants, to reduce the role of cost as a barrier to college access.

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