University Costs Hit Middle Class Hard

"You say it's difficult. No it's very difficult," said Brenda Lindsey about the challenges of sending a child through college.   The high school counselor knows well the high cost of college. She's got a daughter entering medical school and a son at the University of Houston.   Photographs of her children fill her office and her computer screen saver is the U of H website.

Even with the help of scholarships the Lindseys work hard to pay the college bills. Among the sacrifices is no retirement fund for her husband who already works around the clock. Lindsey said, "He works two jobs. He works his regular job until 5:00 or 5:30, then he goes to his second job and works it to 8:30 at night and he's constantly working and he works a half day on Saturday."

The Lindseys represent what the nonprofit National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education released in its latest study. The findings report that sending a student to a public university costs low to middle-income Texas families almost half of their annual earnings.   Lindsey said, "We're too high to be in the low income where you get financial aid and certainly not in the rich section. There's nothing for middle class."

Lindsey counsels her students to help with college finances and to save, something Lindsey wishes she could have done more often. The sacrifices are tough, but you won't hear any complaints from this proud parent. Lindsey said, "It's for my kids and I know it will be over one day. There's a light at the end of the tunnel and then they'll be on their own and I'll feel as a parent I've done my part."

The report says it's time for state leaders and educational leaders to do their parta. It gave Texas a failing grade for higher education affordability. The state also received low grades for its college enrollment numbers and degree completion rates. According to the report -- "Texas' under performance in educating its young population could limit the state's access to a competitive work force and weaken its economy over time."