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For middle-income college students, a rising dilemma

Many are too poor to write a check for college, but too rich to qualify for aid. With a federal solution looking unlikely, states like California are starting to offer some help.

When it came to paying for college, Kelsey Brewer tried to do everything right.

She worked two jobs. She took out loans. She filled out the free application for federal student aid, or FAFSA, every year – a step that students who hail from middle-income families, as Ms. Brewer does, tend to skip because they assume they won’t qualify for financial aid.

But money was tight. When funds were lowest – usually around the end of the semester – Brewer had to make tough choices. One of the toughest: Whether she could afford to eat that day.

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