The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday the sharp climb in students using federal assistance to pay for college is a reflection of climbing expenses.
The increasing use of federal loans cuts across all income levels, the Journal said.
For example, 18 percent of full time students from families with incomes of $60,000 to $80,000 received federal Pell grants for the 2011-12 school year. That was a considerable jump from 2007-08 when 2 percent in that income range received Pell assistance.
The loans in the 2011-12 school year averaged $8,200, the report says. Meanwhile, the average cost of college -- tuition and fees at in-state four-year colleges climbed from $5,900 in 2007-08 to $7,700 in 2011-12, the report says.
"Clearly, we can see over the last four years that a growing percentage of undergraduates and their families have relied upon aid ... from federal grants and loans. This reflects economic conditions and the rising cost of college," said Jack Buckley, commissioner of the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, which compiled the report.