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Podcast: The Winners (and Losers) of College Financial Aid

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(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Universities have become increasingly strategic about how they use their financial aid – often taking comprehensive data that goes well beyond test scores into account – but who they’re awarding money to and for what remains unclear.

ProPublica’s Marian Wang recently reported that colleges are reluctant to reveal their criteria for distributing financial aid, citing proprietary concerns, and offer little beyond vague and superficial disclosures about their policies.

This lack of transparency poses a risk, Wang says, especially as college tuition costs continue to skyrocket: “What are schools’ priorities? When they pick who gets financial aid from the institution and who doesn’t or who gets more and who gets less, they’re actually choosing winners and losers. And we want to better understand that.”

She joins our assistant managing editor, Eric Umansky, on the podcast this week to discuss how current regulations are allowing schools to remain ambiguous about their financial aid policies; how, as colleges shift their priorities, low-income students are getting left behind; and how even the savviest consumers can have a difficult time understanding how much their college education will ultimately cost.

You can listen to this podcast on iTunes and Stitcher. And for more of ProPublica’s reporting on financial aid and admissions policies, read some of our past work:

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