College Costs How Much?

It’s that time of year again.  Yesterday, the College Board released its annual Cost of College report.  And like the years before it, the numbers aren’t pretty.  Tuition and fees at public four-year colleges are up 6.6 percent from last year.  At private colleges, there is a 5.5 percent increase.

At face value, that doesn’t seem too bad.  But let’s take a look at increases over the past decade.  For those going to private schools, tuition and fees have increased 72 percent over the last 10 years.  And in our public institutions, those schools designed to provide ALL students with a postsecondary education, costs have increased nearly 100 percent since 1997.  USA Today has the story —

Only the price of a gallon of gasoline has experienced greater inflation that a college degree.  Even healthcare costs haven’t increased, over the same time period, like college tuition prices.

What message does this send, particularly at a time when we preach that very student needs a postsecondary education?  Is that college diploma 100 percent more valuable?  Are starting salaries out of college 72 percent higher today than they were in 1997?  Are we learning more in college today?  Do we have greater access to full professors?  Are classes smaller?  Are offerings more specialized and relevant?

Of course, the answer to all of these is no.  Prices are rising because they can rise.  College endowments are at an all-time high; sticker price doesn’t haven’t to exceed inflation.  More student loan money is available today than ever before.  But we don’t need every student to max out to go to college.  We do it because it is expected.  We know college tuition will exceed inflation every year, and we have come to accept it.

If we are really going to sell today’s high school students on the notion that a postsecondary education is necessary for career and life success (and the data shows that it is), we need to also show that quality postsecondary education can be found at an affordable price.  Not everyone needs a $160K college diploma to secure a good job.  Not everyone needs to borrow six figures in student loans to get a meaningful college degree.

Eduflack looks at his 18-month-old son, and often wonders what college is in his future.  Eduwife is a proud grad of Stanford University (BA and MA) and UPenn (Ed.D.).  At this rate, Eduflack is looking at starting tuition and fees for Stanford’s freshmen of 2024 coming in at nearly $125,000 a year.  It’s never too early to teach Eduson football or golf. 


3 thoughts on “College Costs How Much?

  1. Still, eduman, how can you justify a place like George Washington University which does not even have a campus charging 50k a year. Are you guys kidding or what?? How about looking at productivity in higher ed.

  2. I live in a third world country wherein you need to graduate from college to be able to get a decent more than the minimum wage kind of job. Like what you stated above, the prices of the good universities in our country also increases every year. If we want to go to a first world country, we have to forget our earned degrees and start taking exams and additional courses to graduate again. If we want a better future, we need to study else we’ll become janitors, security guards and what have you. Unless we have great luck or talent, we have to work until we are paralyze to get a bright future ahead. I share the same sentiment that education should not be expensive. It is a right. It should be affordable. It should be something that all children from wherever location must and should have.

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