Rise in College Tuition Rates

A Serious Problem Facing America

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What's the Big Deal?

Rising college tuition is a huge problem in our society that creates difficulties for hundreds of thousands of students each and every year. In today's current job market, it is nearly impossible to obtain a high paying job without having a college degree. However, it has never been more difficult to obtain a degree due to the drastic rises in college tuition. According to Bloomberg.com, college tuition has increased 528% since 1983. This means that we are paying over five times more than college students were thirty one years ago. Are the college degrees we are pursuing that much more valuable than they were thirty one years ago? With the average college tuition and board reaching $23,066 for the average U.S. student, per Collegeboard.org, rising college tuition is a serious problem plaguing this generation's scholars.
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How Can This Generation Change The Future?

Although lowering U.S. college tuition may seem like a monumental endeavor, it is a possible one, provided that the right steps are taken in order to do so. The ones who must take the first step are those who are most directly affected by rising tuition: the university students of today. If any change is to come, it depends on whether or not they are able to wake up and realize the direness of the situation at hand, alert the nation's population of the issue and finally, take direct action.

Waking Up and Opening Eyes

In 2014, collegeboard.com reported that the U.S. nation's average college tuition has and will continue to rise each year for students entering universities. As the image below shows, private universities on average will increase in tuition by over $1000 from 2014 to 2015 alone. This trend, unfortunately, doesn't appear to lower any time in the future. However, this could change with the action of this generation of U.S. students.

Any possibility of lowering tuition first stems from the willingness of the students to no longer ignore the issue. Before college costs can be lowered, the primary victims must decide that they are no longer able to accept the way things are and open their eyes to the harsh facts. If not, then not only will they continue to pay overpriced tuition, but the generations that follow them will have to pay even more.

2014 – 2015 Average Published Charges for Full-Time Undergraduates by Sector

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Going Public and Spreading the Word

If today's U.S. students can realize the reality of their situation, the next step for them to take is to make the population as a whole realize that rising tuition affects them as well. From parents of the students to the generation that preceded them, college costs are a burden on a wider range of the nation's people than most of it's general public may be aware of.

Aside from the students themselves, their parents typically are the ones who also must bear the most financial struggles as a result of rising college tuition. In March 2014, news site nor.org reported in the article How The Cost Of College Went From Affordable to Sky-High, parents of students in that year saw a 77% increase in cost in Oklahoma, while parents in Georgia experienced a 75% increase from the previous year's costs. While many students struggle to pay for their college expenses themselves, most of their families also endure the issue with them. Financially, this puts both the students attending college and their parents at a large disadvantage.

However, college costs are also predicting a less-than favorable future for the generation preceding this current age of students, namely the elderly. As discussed in an article from college.lovetoknow.com, data from the National Student Clearing Research Center showed that rising costs in tuition are directly responsible for an increasing number in college dropouts and a decreasing amount of enrollments. Because this generation is struggling to cope with possibly having to search for well paying jobs without a degree, the previous generation is forced to place their future into their hands, even if they are unable to handle it. Although this generation's students may be mentally capable of succeeding in college, being financially unable to do so paints a grim future for the nation.

Taking Action and Taking A Stand

The most effective strategy for college students to take action against rising tuition in the nation is to come together and make their voices heard as one. By forming protest movements together, students of today can make their demands known to their universities and states across the nation. As rising college costs affect every university student in the U.S., they are far from alone in this endeavor.

This by no means that gathering in large mobs and disturbing the peace is the correct way of approaching the issue, however. As reported on washingtonpost.com, University of California students began a state wide protest movement in 2009. The movement ended up resulting in "more than 100 students protesting the Santa Cruz campus," with 41 students being arrested at Berkley for participating in the same protest. While attention was briefly drawn to the nation's problem of rising tuition, it ended up being counterproductive for what the students were fighting for.

Rather than standing in mobs on strike, students have a much better chance of success if they use their status within their respective universities to bring change. Many universities put much of their tuition costs into charging for housing, meals and textbooks. In fact, information found on collegedata.com reported that in 2013 the average cost for room & board, "ranged from $9500 at four-year public schools to $10,830 at private schools." As seen in the graph below, more than half of the cost for the average U.S. public two-year college is solely for room & board. However, this does not have to be the only way that students must live.

Instead of giving in to their universities' demands of paying for their services concerning housing & textbooks, students should let their universities know that they are perfectly capable of finding alternative resources. For example, online textbooks are much more affordable than purchasing books directly from their colleges. Living off campus is also generally more affordable than paying for room & board provided by a university. Though making these changes may initially seem subtle, universities across the nation are bound to notice them. After all, if they want to collect any profit at all, they should at least make sure that they have students to collect money from.

2014 – 2015 Average Tuition and Fees and Room and Board by Sector and College Board Region

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University of California Students Protesting College Tuition in 2009

A Need For A Solution

Everyone at Texas A&m has been affected by increased tuition although many students are unaware of these increases. The following email was received by the Texas A&M student body on January 26, 2014.

"Howdy Ag,

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents will vote later this week on the proposed tuition increases for next academic year. If the Board of Regents approves the proposal, some students will see tuition increases exceeding $700 per semester. Before the regents can approve these increases, they are legally required to hold a public hearing for students and the public (which they have very conveniently located in Galveston).

Below you will find a copy of the public notice that the Texas A&M administration and Board of Regents don't want you to see. I've retrieved it from the depths of the internet, because I think it is important for you to have appropriate information available to you in order to make informed decisions.

It is relieving to know there are fellow Aggies out there fighting for policies to reduce the cost of tuition. Unfortunately, the University approved tuition increases despite the students’ efforts. Because we all are affected by tuition rises at our University, I have created a solution that could solve the crisis and lower the tuition for every student across the country."

Learning From Other Countries

Europe is a prime example of low tuition costs, and the United States can learn a lot from several European nations. Germany currently offers free college tuition even to international students. However, according to author Christopher Denhart in an article from Forbes.com , Germany now has the “second highest income tax burden in the world.” Furthermore, without the financing from tuition and fees, government funding will not cover necessary expenses for universities.

As a result, it is clear that completely eradicating tuition costs would not be the most viable solution for the United States.

England, in contrast, does not have free college tuition, but instead has a cap on how much public Universities can charge students.

For instance, according to John Morgan in an article from Times Higher Education, Universities in the United Kingdom can charge students no more than nine thousand euros per year.

This increases the affordability of college in the UK while also alleviating financial strain on the government.

However, according to Graeme Paton of the United Kingdom News Telegraph, this tuition cap is too low and is unsustainable, just like Germany’s free tuition policy.

Consequently, neither Germany nor England has established a flawless tuition policy for which the United States can emulate.

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For more information click on the link below:

A Viable Solution

However, learning from the flaws in policies of these European countries, I propose a law that requires universities to lock in tuition costs for individual students, so that each student pays the same tuition their freshman year through senior year.

In this way, students will know the amount of tuition they will pay throughout their college career.

Students will not have to worry about sudden spikes in the cost of tuition each year.

Universities will then have to adjust their budgets to meet their locked in rates and increasing the price of tuition will no longer be an option.

In addition to requiring universities to set their own reasonable cap on tuition, the new law would also slowly decrease the amount of federal aid distributed by the government.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, federal aid is actually increasing the cost of your tuition.

According to Mary Kate Cary of U.S. News, in the past thirty years, “the amount of federal aid has quadrupled.”

However, the student loan debt is now at an all-time high.

Why is this?

As students complain about the rising price of tuition, “politicians respond by throwing more money at them, and colleges respond by increasing tuition."

This is a vicious cycle because as the government provides more federal aid to students, students become increasingly able to afford college thus prompting universities to continue increasing tuition. Therefore, my law would decrease the amount of federal aid distributed which would then lower the cost of tuition in the long run.

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What is the problem anyway?

The rising cost of tuition in America is a serious problem. College tuition rates are rising, which is increasing the financial burden on students and parents. According to Steven Moore, tuition rates have doubled over the past 15 years. Tuition rates have risen at a rate that is almost five times the rate of inflation over the past 30 years.

The rise in college tuition rates can be directly attributed to two causes: first, government funding for universities have gone down, especially since the Great Recession; second, colleges have increased spending across the board on facilities, professors, and general amenities. This, along with an increase in government loans for students, has contributed to colleges lifting prices tremendously.

One of the significant consequences of the increase in college tuition rates is a sharp increase in student loan debt. High college tuition rates are forcing more and more students into taking on debt in order to get the education that is almost a necessity in modern society. Students emerge from college loaded with debt, and this can have a negative effect on the overall effect on the economy because these young people are much less likely to act as consumers, especially when it comes to buying that first car or house. Another big fear is that a student loan debt bubble is brewing. A massive default on student loans could lead to a financial crisis similar to the one in 2008.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is causing the rise in college tuition rates?

The rise in college tuition is caused by two things. First, there is a decrease in public funding for universities. This is partly caused by the Great Recession, when state governments reduced funds allocated for universities. Another cause for the increase in college tuition is an increase across the board in university spending, which the university then passes on to the student in the form of tuition hikes. Society is also changing its views on who should bear the burden of educating young people. Whereas previous generations believed in subsidies for education, society is transitioning more towards families providing for their own college education.

2. What are some of the effects of rising college tuition rates?

The first and most important effect of rising college tuition rates is an increased hardship on students and their families. Students many times have to take on debt to pay for college. The worst case scenario is that students simply cannot pay for college. One of the brewing repercussions of the rise in college tuition rates is a rise in student loan debt. In fact, many economists believe that student loan debt could be the next credit bubble. Student loan debt in America is over 1 trillion dollars, and a default of this magnitude would certainly send the financial system reeling.

3. What can be done to help solve this crisis?

One of the solutions is to cap the amount of tuition colleges can charge over a four year period. By locking in tuition rates, students and parents know exactly how much they will be paying and will not be blindsided by enormous hikes in tuition. The other solution is to decrease the amount of government aid given for student loans. This sounds counterintuitive, but government backed student loans is part of the problem. When the government gives out student loans, it increases the leverage that colleges have to raise tuition rates. By reducing the amount of student loans given out, the government can both avoid a massive debt default in future years as well as help stem the tide of rising tuition.

A Short Summary

The cost and significant increase of college tuition poses a serious problem to Americans seeking a college diploma. The problem of rising tuition is caused by a decrease in public funding for universities and an increase in spending by universities. The cost of a college education and the debt incurred by students has several means as to be lowered, including looking to other countries' success and past mistakes with the same issue. There should be a federal law placing a cap on college tuition which is adjusted annually for inflation. Also, the government should start to decrease the amount of federal aid it gives out. It is the students who are currently in college have the power to make college tuition lower by waking up, spreading the word, and taking action. If any change is to come at all, the steps needed to do so must first be taken.

Works Cited

Carney, John. “The Student Loan Bubble is Starting to Burst.” CNBC. September 5, 2013. December 3,

2014. http://www.cnbc.com/id/101012270

Kaufman, Aaron. “Who is Really To Blame for High College Tuition”. Elite Daily. May 23, 2014. December

3, 2014. http://elitedaily.com/life/whos-really-to-blame-for-the-rising-cost-of-college/607416/

Moore, Stephen. “Why are College Tuition Rates Rising So Much?” Daily Signal. June 14, 2014.

Decemeber 2, 2014. http://dailysignal.com/2014/06/14/link-high-education-healthcare-costs-


Matthews, Dylan. “Tuition is too Damn High and Here are Three Reasons Why.” Washington Post.

August 28, 2013. December 3, 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/


Touryalai, Halah. “1 Trillion Dollars Student Loan Problem Keeps Getting Worse.” Forbes. February 21,

2014. December 3, 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/halahtouryalai/2014/02/21/1-trillion-


Works Cited (cont.)

"How The Cost Of College Went From Affordable To Sky-High." NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2014. <http://www.npr.org/2014/03/18/290868013/how-the-cost-of-college-went-from-affordable-to-sky-high>.

"Is the High Cost of Tuition Causing Decreased College Enrollment?" LoveToKnow. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2014. <http://college.lovetoknow.com/High_Cost_of_Tuition_Causing_Decreased_College_Enrollment>.

"Trends in Higher Education - The College Board." Trends in Higher Education - The College Board. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2014. <https://lp.collegeboard.org/trends>.

"University of California Students Protest Tuition Hikes. A Look at Some Campus Protests over the Years." Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2014. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/11/20/university-of-california-students-protest-tuition-hikes-a-look-at-some-campus-protests-over-the-years/>.

"What's the Price Tag for a College Education?" COLLEGEdata. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2014. <http://www.collegedata.com/cs/content/content_payarticle_tmpl.jhtml?articleId=10064>.