College education is a highly talked about subject among the presidents. For many years college education was not highly sought after or looked for, then when people who did go to college started getting better paying jobs than everyone else more and more people started to go to college. Since college is such a hot commodity these days the price of a college education is on a steady rise. Some experts have a very strong opinion as to why college education is on a rise and some believe that that it is not on the rise.
To begin to understand this issue, we have to first examine the history and the context from which it arose. The rise of tuition is mainly due in part because the colleges need more money to upgrade and stay on top of the technology era. There are also many other reasons why tuition is on the rise though. One writer states that, “As almost every state reels from the effects of recession and tax cuts, legislatures slash funding for higher education, the largest discretionary item in most state budgets.” (Reed Jr., p.25). Another writer states, “A need to improve facilities, state budgets that are declining and inflation are all contributing to the rising cost of higher education, and there appears to be no end in sight.” (Gallagher, The Augusta Chronicle). This same writer gives another reason, “Universities, private and public, have to raise tuition to cover the costs of new construction, renovations and technological advancements and to keep qualified professors.” (The Augusta Chronicle). All of these statements show that there are many reasons why college tuition is on the rise, but they don’t seem to make sense to me. There should be other ways that colleges are able to pay for these advances in technology and inflation besides just hiking up the tuition cost. The tuition cost is so high that they have plenty of money to pay for all of the technological advances that they want and still have money left over for others things that the school has to be able to pay for from the tuition from students.
In one presidential debate between Sen. John Kerry and President Bush, “Sen. John Kerry accused President Bush of under funding aid programs, while Bush touted college access as one of the top priorities of his economic plan.” Both of the candidates seem to agree on one thing though, “Going to college just keeps getting more expensive.” (Opening the College Gates) This goes to show that no matter who is talking everyone agrees that tuition is going to rise even more in the years to come. Later on in the same article the author states, “But while both candidates have offered an array of new financing plans, many analysts worry that neither man’s proposals will come close to what is necessary to make college more accessible and affordable for everyone.” If the candidates can’t make college more affordable then the proposals don’t make any sense. They should come up with proposals that will actually help student and parents pay for college instead of just making proposals for the sake of making proposals.
Bush has made a lot of promises, but one that I hope he holds to is one made in the article Opening the College Gates where it says, “Bush pledges to increase student aid by six percent and will try to link federal aid more closely to academics by offering a one thousand dollar scholarship to Pell recipients who take college-prep classes in high school, along with five thousand dollars more in aid to students who study math and science in college.” If he holds up this claim then a lot more people will be able to hopefully afford college and keep enrollment rates up. On the other hand, “Kerry plans to give tax credits on the first four thousand dollars of tuition to all college students whose parents earn less than one hundred thousand dollars. The credit would cover one hundred percent of the first one thousand dollars and fifty percent of the rest – essentially functioning as an extra two thousand five hundred dollar Pell grant.” (Opening the College Gates) I don’t think that this claim is a very realistic claim because there are tons of people who earn fewer than one hundred thousand dollars and there’s no way that the government could pay for everyone to get back four thousand dollars.
College tuition has changed greatly from back in the seventies. All of the following stats were obtained from a website by Citibank. For a Private Four-Year University in 1971-72 it cost about $7,000, and in 2000-01 it costs $16,332. For a Private Two-Year University in 1971-72 it cost about $4,500, and in 2000-01 it costs $7,458. For a Public Four-Year University in 1971-72 it cost about $1,900, and in 2000-01 it costs $3,510. For a Public Two-Year University in 1971-72 it cost about $1,000, and in 2000-01 it costs $1,705. All of these prices even seem high back in the seventies. Even though they seem high I wish these were the prices now.
Almost every person that I have read has agreed that college tuition fees have almost doubled in the past ten years. One researcher said, “Average tuition at public flagship universities rose 9% this year, vs. 14% a year ago” (USA Today, Sep. 14, 2004). Another researcher stated, “Over the past decade, tuition rose 47% at public four-year colleges and 42% at their private counterparts” (Hempel, Issue 3885). This is a huge jump for just ten years, if this continues the tuition costs will be extremely high in a few years. They may become so high that their enrollment rates may drop because of it. Most of the colleges make money off of the tuition. The money that they do make usually goes back into the university for enhancements and additions to buildings. They also use the money to help stay up with computer technologies. Even though they do all of these advances they still have to have money to pay teachers salaries and be able to pay for scholarships that some students earn.
Many colleges aren’t only raising the tuition costs, but they are also raising the cost of textbooks. According to the Washington Post, “The National Association of College Bookstores says wholesale prices of college textbooks have risen nearly forty percent in the past five years.” (Washington Post, Sep. 18, 2004). This helps to show that the colleges are gaining money from some other way besides just the tuition to make ends meet. They could also use this money from the textbooks to help pay for things that are needed for the school to make it better or help aid in the inflation. They could also use this money to pay for student scholarships.
There are many different ways that families can help ease the cost of college. USA Today gives six different ideas to help a family pay for college. One way they say is called the 529 plan which according to USA Today is, “These state-sponsored plans offer a tax-advantaged way to invest for college tuition and other expenses.” Another way is prepaid tuition plans, “These plans let you purchase contracts that lock in tuition rates at state colleges and universities.” The third way is Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), “Education Savings Accounts let you invest in mutual funds, exchange-traded funds or other investments for your child’s education.” The next way is Vanguard’s Education Resource Center, “You can use the money for primary and secondary private school tuition along with college expenses.” The fifth way is Uniform Gifts to Minors Act and Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UGMA/UTMA) accounts, “Uniform Gifts to Minors Act and Uniform Transfers to Minors Act accounts are in your child’s name, but you control the assets until the child is 18 or 21, depending on your state.” The last way is Roth IRA, “Ordinarily, if you withdraw money from a Roth individual retirement account before age 59 , you’ll have to pay taxes on investment gains, plus a 10% penalty. But you can always withdraw the amount of your contributions, without paying taxes or penalties. Withdraw more than that, and you’ll owe taxes on the gains, but the 10% penalty is waived if the money is used for college.” (USA Today, Sep. 14, 2004). All of these plans they list could be very helpful to anyone who needs help gaining their college education. Most of them need to be planned before a child is already accepted into college though, so if someone needs the money think ahead. Try to find another way if possible to not take out college loans. With a college loan the school gets a lot of money back on the interest. It may sound like a good idea at first but in the end will end up hurting you.
A reporter from Newsweek has come up with five more ways that students can help pay for college; make your case, focus on the bottom line, prepare for the future, fill the gaps, and break down and borrow. According to Linda Stern, “Most schools that provide aid will reconsider their offer if you can show them you have less money than they thought.” The next suggestion she talks about is to focus on the bottom line, “The biggest award may not be the best deal if it’s mostly loans or comes from the most expensive school.” The third concept she talks about is to prepare for the future, “Ask the school to commit to a four-year award, and structure your family’s finances to lower your bill.” The next method she talks about is to fill the gaps, “Many schools will break down the bursar’s bill into more digestible bites.” The last approach she says that students can help pay for college is to break down and borrow, “At today’s low rates, it’s hard to find a better deal than a student loan.” (Stern, Issue 15). All of these ways are very good ideas to help pay for college, a few of them will need some planning before-hand in order to get the job done. As long as parents and children start thinking about the college of their choice before they are a senior in high school then they should be able to afford it.
Thinking of ways to pay for college is a good idea but families should also be figuring out who will pay for college and how much. Most parents will do anything they can to have their child go to the University of their choice, but what most parents don’t think about is the repercussions. The author of the article Who pays for COLLEGE? says, “think of paying for college as a joint venture, with kids pitching in to give themselves a stake in their own education.” She then goes on to say, “kids can get a degree for a fraction of the cost by attending a community college for two years and then transferring to a four-year school.” (Who pays for COLLEGE?) These are both great ideas to keep in mind for parents who are willing to help their child pay for college. If a child helps pay for college then they usually want to do better in school because they are paying for part of the schooling, so if they mess up then they are losing money. I don’t know too many students are willing to give away their money for no apparent reason to someone else.
There is one author who actually claims that college tuition has not risen, and actually declined. The author of the article Tuition fees don’t tell whole truth states, “With grants at an all-time high and tax-advantaged college savings plans growing rapidly, the study’s authors claim that average tuition costs at public four-year colleges – excluding room and board, books and transportation and plenty else – have actually declined.” (Tuition fees don’t tell whole truth) I don’t think that I agree with this author just for the fact that there are too many facts to prove otherwise. I stated a lot of numbers earlier to show that tuition had almost doubled in the past ten years, and now this lady comes along and says that no tuition is actually cheaper. This doesn’t make any sense to me, but maybe that’s just me.
I believe that tuition is on the rise and there isn’t much that we can do about it. If the government and Universities want to make the tuition higher then they are going to, no matter what anyone says about it. I think that the only way to deal with the tuition increase is to start saving money for college early in life and hope that it doesn’t get to high before you get there, especially since college education is so highly sought after and held in such high regard. If parents and children will just sit down and figure out a plan on how to pay for college before they are a junior or senior in high school then there should be no problem in paying for it.
1) Reed Jr., Adolph L. Majoring in Debt. Progressive; Jan 2004, Vol. 68 Issue 1, p 25, 3p, 2bw.
2) Gallagher, James. College Costs Continue to Rise Sharply. The (GA) Augusta Chronicle; 5/30/2004.
3) USA Today. Learn about ways to pay college tuition. Sep. 14, 2004.
4) Hempel, Jessi. College Tuition? Gumption Won’t Cover It. Business Week, 5/31/2004, Issue 3885.
5) http://studentloan.citibank.com/slcsite/slcframeset.htm. Citicorp. Oct. 26, 2004.
6) The Washington Post. Textbook Prices On the Rise. Sep. 18, 2004.
7) Stern, Linda. Congrats!Now Pay Up. Newsweek, 4/12/2004, Vol. 143, Issue 15.
8) Ewers, Justin and Kingsbury, Alex. Opening the College Gates.
9) Bodnar, Janet. Who pays for COLLEGE?
10) Meyer, Michelle M. Tuition fees don’t tell whole truth.