Policy Issue: Why is College So Expensive?
Angelica Gonzalez and Courtney O’Sullivan wrote an intriguing article regarding the rising costs of higher education. They stated that private four-year colleges have raised their tuition 175 percent in the past thirty years. Even more astounding, is that public four-year colleges and universities have raised their tuition and fees 220 percent in the same amount of time. Gonzalez and O’Sullivan proceeded to discuss where they thought the money was going. It appears that the extra money is not necessarily going directly to student’s education, but rather what is termed a “positive college experience.” The average student-teacher ratio has not changed much over the years. Colleges and universities are spending significantly more money on what many people would consider luxuries. Things such as large student unions and state-of-the-art gym/work-out facilities seem to be a rising priority.
Gonzalez and O’Sullivan go on to address the question of weather or not this positive college experience is leading to a better education or improved results for colleges and universities. Unfortunately, the number of diplomas earned has barely increased in the past four to five years. In 2002 the average number of diplomas earned in private colleges and universities was 23 per 100 students as compared to 25 per 100 students in 2006 (Gonzalez & O’Sullivan, 2010.)
The topic of student aide is also discussed. How is government aide, be it loans and/grants, contributing to the rising cost of higher education? Over the past ten years, the average amount of tuition being paid for using government funds has risen from sixty to seventy-five percent (Gonzalez & O’Sullivan, 2010.) If I have read and interpreted correctly, Gonzalez and O’Sullivan believe that the availability of government aide, more people are attending college, therefore increasing the demand for higher education and driving up the cost.
It is obvious that more colleges and universities, both public and private, are “improving” the look of their campuses. Dorm rooms have changed from a tiny rectangle with two beds, two desks and two holes in the wall for closets and three bedroom suites with kitchens and private bathrooms. Student union halls have a plethora of restaurants to choose from and the workout facilities are better than most private gyms. What teenager wouldn’t want to go live somewhere like that for four to five years? The question is, is it worth driving up the cost of education so high?
There are not many families in our country that are able to pay for their children to go to college, let alone a university that has tripled in price over the past decade. The only choice is to take out student loans that you are then stuck paying for the next ten or more years. Is the three bedroom suite really worth it? Do we really need all of the “extras?” It certainly is not increasing the number of graduates. It just fuels a viscous cycle of people who start out their adult lives in debt, can never get out and thus force their children to take out large loans in order to pay for college and continue the pattern.