College Tuition - A numbers issue vs a percentage issue

We were very fortunate to be able to put our children through college (and one through graduate school) by scrimping, saving, a tuition reduction scholarship for one and choosing from schools within the range of affordability. When I read about college tuition costs now and young people saddled with six figures of debt, I think we are asking the wrong “why?”

I attended a private, major city East Coast university and paid full TRB (tuition, room, board). At the time (rounding numbers here) the median family income in the US was around $17,000- $20,000/yr, the TRB costs were $4000/yr. So, even though it would take a chunk out of the family budget, it was possible for a family to save up and pay for all or most of a kid’s tuition. (I actually knew no student who had taken out loans - I knew scholarship students, but none who needed loans to pay for college.) Today, the median income is around the low 50s (I read $52,000 somewhere) but that same university tuition is in the mid 60s. So, education there no longer costs 1/5-1/4 of a family’s median income, it’s more than 100% of a family’s income. IMHO, we need to be phrasing the question differently - instead of just asking why tuition is so high, we should ask why it’s now the equivalent of or greater than a parent’s annual income.

We talk a lot about the addiction crisis, but getting young people hooked on loans that they will take the majority of their working years to pay off is a pretty insidious form of addiction, too.

Because of the refresh issue I just lost my thought-out post, so I’ll just give a run down of what I typed: Agreed, college expenses have gotten out of control. I just got accepted into Oral Roberts University with an $11k (renewable for up to 4 years, uppermost tier academic scholarship) and here are my expenses:

Tuition with scholarship: 27 grand (without, it’s around 38 grand)
Meal Plan: 4.5 grand per year (+$200-$500 depending on which meal plan I choose)
Room/board: (I’m thinking of getting a double with a private bath) $2,210
Other expenses, including books: $5,482/year
Enrollment fee: $250

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Ultimately, it’s probably because spending has increased. Taxes have increased, government spending has increased, and need more money, and thus, colleges, as a business, will pay higher taxes indirectly. I’m for more affordable education, but not for free education. Students, parents, schools, and the government should all chip in, but only a small amount.

Even as someone with a fair bit of time invested in my higher education, I believe we have put FAR too much emphasis on a traditional degree. We also need skilled tradesmen. They are a dying breed and they deserve a lot more respect than they are currently given.
Minimum educational requirements are a joke for a lot of jobs and a lot of degrees are a joke as well.

We need a reset.

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Congratulations on your acceptance to University , and make sure to file the FAFSA!

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I agree.

Right now in my state of residence barbers & beauticians are looking for individuals with state cosmetology licenses willing to work.

And that’s just one example of positions in the skilled trades going unfilled. Not every student is able to do college level work, & some just aren’t interested.

They should have viable alternatives.

Some states offer minimum or free tuition to students who meet minimum academic standards, may include minimum hours of volunteering and come from homes with a maximum income.

It’s not available to everyone, but it’s helpful I’m sure to those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to go & are willing to put efforts towards their educations.

Congratulations :tada: on your acceptance!

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That can definitely help. Tulsa county has that exact program called Tulsa Achieves. A work-study program or working on campus I’d also recommend. A student needs to do everything in their power to pay for their own education as much as they can, as not only does it alleviate financial burden off of their parents and off of the government, but it also teaches discipline and self-respect. A student who is unable though, due to disability or low income, I would make an exception for, though.

Just imagine, what employers will think when they hear, “I put myself through school…” That says a lot about an individual.

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Thanks! I’m excited and ready for a change of scenery. :slight_smile:

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Thankyou! I can’t wait to get off on my own.

Here are some articles that will be helpful: – 27 Apr 18

Peter Morici: America is over-investing in higher education

Trump’s spot-on apprenticeships offer a sorely needed alternative to pricey traditional higher education.

The Scholarship System – 13 Dec 18

The Real Reasons Why College Tuition is So High and What you Can Do About it -…

College costs are skyrocketing and it only seems to be getting worse. Here are the real reasons college tuition is rising and what can be done about it.


Why does college cost so much? - CNN

College costs too much, both for students and for society as a whole, says Richard Vedder, and higher education is ripe for innovation.

Study: Increased student aid, not faculty salaries, drives tuition up

A new study asserts that increased student aid, not faculty salaries or state cutbacks, drives prices higher.

Someone else I had a similar discussion with explained it like this:

The problem started in the 60’s when draft deferments were offered to those persons enrolled in college. Liberal professors that opposed the war in Vietnam eased up on educational requirements so that even mediocre students could stay in school and avoid the draft. More students enrolled which increased expenses for more instructors, more dorms, more construction, more of everything.

After the threat of the Vietnam War passed, many students who were hiding in school to avoid service decided to leave school and do whatever…leaving unused facilities…empty dorms, instructors that didn’t really have a teaching load…

Enter the marketing experts that convinced America that everyone should have a college degree, even if it was only a useless bachelor’s degree in psychology. People who would have normally been encouraged to learn a trade were talked into going to college and to keep them in college, content was watered down in many instances. This produced many graduates that weren’t that much more educated than when they left high school.

Meanwhile, easy to get student loans were offered…this appealed to parents that didn’t have the money to send their kids to school…while trade school education was pooh-poohed by the main stream media as not being needed because we were all going to become involved somehow with computers and high-tech jobs. Well, how did that work out?

I blame baby boomers and to a lesser extent Gen X which is my generation. Gen X was raised to believe that you should follow your interests and not consider whether there was a job at the end or not. We then doubled down on this philosophy as we raised the millenial generation. As a result we have two generations of people who went to college taking majors like art history or english literature that have minimal job prospects.

We need to start pushing people into fields that actually have job prospects. Art history, gender studies, etc might be okay for a semester elective but to get an actual degree in them is pointless and I have zero sympathy for anyone that does it and gets saddled with debt.

BTW, I say this as someone with a Criminal Justice degree which is worth about as much as a package of toilet paper. I ended up making a solid living but I could have done it without the degree.

You’ve given no evidence to support this so-called argument. The fact that somebody else said it, is not evidence.

This is obviously a generalization, which does make sense and much of which I see as generally accurate, for example here are some things I found pertaining to the first two paragraphs:

Here is an excerpt from the second article:

“Between 1965 and 1975 the enrollment rate of college-age men in the United States rose and then fell abruptly. Many contemporary observers (e.g., James Davis and Kenneth Dolbeare, 1968) attributed the surge in college attendance to draft-avoidance behavior. Under a policy first introduced in the Korean War, the Selective Service issued college deferments to enrolled men that delayed their eligibility for conscription. These deferments provided a strong incentive to remain in school for men who wanted to avoid the draft. For example, the college entry rate of young men rose from 54 percent in 1963 to 62 percent in 1968 (the peak year of the draft). Moreover, both the college entry rate and the number of inductions dropped sharply between 1968 and 1973 as the draft was being phased out.”

You are conflating academic pursuits with vocational training. An undergraduate degree may have nothing to do with what career you choose to pursue. It doesn’t need to. What 21-year old knows, with certainty, what they want to do in life? Obviously, if you want to go to medical school, you need to major in a science or make sure you take the requisite science classes. Law school – not so much. I majored in biological sciences. I haven’t been in a lab since my senior year. It was not a waste of time; I took econ, history, computer science, logic, literature, sociology, anthropology, to name a few. This was in addition to lots of biology, physics, chemistry and calculus.

Technology and automation have changed the job landscape for just about everybody. When I graduated from college, IBM, Xerox and Kodak employed tons of newly-minted graduates as sales people. Those jobs basically don’t exist any more in those numbers.

In my opinion, a 4-year college degree is designed to teach you about the world (past and present) and to teach you how to think and write. How many people on this forum have complain about uneducated voters? While one could certainly be self-educated about many things, it’s unlikely.

Is a 4-year degree appropriate for everyone? Of course not. But to suggest that it is a total waste of time is silly. College graduates still make more money that non-college graduates, on average.

I can’t speak to your experience about majoring in criminal justice. Were you unable to get a job in that area or did you choose not to?

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I don’t disagree that draft deferment caused a spike in college enrollment. But you went on to attribute that to many other things like increased investment in facilities which were supposedly later underutilized and “instructors that didn’t really have a teaching load.” You also assert that "education was “watered down” and that “many graduates weren’t that much more educated than when they left high school.” Where is your evidence for this? You also failed to discuss that enrollment continued to increase after the Viet Nam war era.

Sorry, your argument is not that compelling.

I’m a police officer so technically yes. However I didn’t need the degree as I’m in the extreme minority of officers who actually have a 4 yr degree.

But I go back to my point. Its a toilet paper degree. There are absolutely ZERO fields out there where a CJ degree is a prerequisite. Probably half the degrees out there are toilet paper degrees.

Yes I’ll agree that I’m a better writer and thinker because I went to college. However I also came out of college with an extremely pollyanna view of the world whereas many of my coworkers who didn’t go to college and actually lived and WORKED in the real world those years had a much more realistic view of the world.

It took me a while to start viewing the world in reality compared to them which I think is a huge part of the problem with college. In college you learn theoretical ideals which have little to do with reality and real world options and solutions.

And a biology degree was not a requirement to work at IBM. If I hadn’t had a degree, I wouldn’t have gotten the job. What’s your point?

I can’t speak to your experience of having a “pollyanna view.” I don’t know what you mean.

College grads still make more money than non-college grads.