The first trimester of 2015 brings with it bad news for the ever-delicate problem of rising college tuition statistics. Unlike the more socially-oriented education system of European countries, the American higher education landscape has always been marked by the struggle of large tuition costs and, in the past few years, by the even worsening state of things via the rise of these costs. According to the latest college tuition statistics, the class graduating from America’s colleges in 2014 was the most indebted in the country’s history: the average graduate who attended classes via a student loan owed a whooping amount of $33,000 at graduation. Moreover, the average cost for tuition, room and board per year, in a four-year program at a private institution is currently situated at $42,419, and the prices continue to rise. It is estimated that over 50 American schools are even charging more than $60,000 per year for their education services.
Unfortunately, this staggering financial burden isn’t just growing out of control, but it often falls strictly upon the shoulders of students and their parents, since the government is still lacking consistent solutions for the problems in an ever-shifting economic landscape. Student loans are obviously the easiest and most obvious solution, but with a price tag so high and a continuously rising debt burden, people are starting to legitimately question whether college is actually worth the trouble. Can someone actively earn enough after graduation to make paying the debt back easy and then worth it some more? The answer to this question isn’t that heart-warming if we look at the state of the job market, but since unemployment is even more troublesome when you lack skills, the true answer is along the lines of “maybe college isn’t completely worth it, but not getting a higher degree may be much more trouble, so we can’t afford skipping it”.
Potential Causes of the Rising College Tuition Statistics
Many voices blame the rising college tuition statistics on the equal rise of the inflation rate and the greater economic movements, but a look into these matters can show us things are more complicated than that. Take a look at our chart and you will see how the current inflation rate and, actually, the inflation rates of all past decades have always been outpaced by the rising college tuition costs. We won’t go as far as claiming the inflation has nothing to do with these costs, but it clearly can’t be the sole culprit behind the current state of things. The economic burden on the government and the recent recession can explain things only partially.
On the other side of the argument, over-regulation from the government isn’t really an explanation or solution either, nor in the field of higher education nor in anything else in this country. Far-fetched arguments pointing at ill will have no place in a serious debate, but still, we need to point out that the cause of the tuition costs doesn’t rest in the cost of education per se, since the faculty staff pay system is far from great and adjunct professors, which make up the majority of staff, are so poor they may be on public assistance, living in their cars or working multiple unskilled jobs just to be able to maintain their expensive hobby of teaching.
A Few Solutions and Ideas for Students and Parents
While we can agree the matter of causes is complicated and better left to the experts, focusing on finding potential solutions for the people hit hard by the rise of college tuition costs may be a better idea. Here is our list of suggestions on how to start finding an overall better arrangement for graduating higher ed:
- Go abroad to Europe – It may sound extreme, but think about it this way: most European colleges, especially the ones in Western European countries, give diplomas which are then recognized by the American system, but the tuition costs are minimal or even non-existent (Germany), provided that you demonstrate adequate knowledge in order to get admitted. The experience of living abroad itself can be exotic, interesting and life-changing for the best, so consider doing it for a few years.
- Consider community colleges – This cheaper alternative to private schools gets a bad rap usually, but it needn’t be accurate: many such schools are more than adept at giving you the proper skills needed in order to practice whatever specialty you enroll for.
- Consider state colleges or vocation schools – The same issue as above: even if they are less prestigious than liberal arts disciplines at private schools and colleges, a vocational school or a state college can help you get the diploma you need for the job at a somewhat cheaper tuition plan.
- Choose a very easy major that enables you to work – If all else above doesn’t tempt you, you may consider working your way through college to graduate with a smaller student debt. It will be hard, of course, and you may miss out on the fun of your worry-free colleagues, but you will be proud of yourself after graduation.
- Apply for grants and scholarships – Last, but not least, try to apply for as many grants and scholarships as you possibly can, especially if your results are better than average. You never know where financial help may come from, not to mention that being the recipient of such a grant or scholarship is also quite prestigious further in your career.
These may not all lead somewhere, but they are good places to start from when researching a feasible option that suits you best.
Image source: here.