Discounting, Debt and Tuition Increases in Higher Ed

According to the College Board College costs have raised a total of five percent. If admissions rates have been on an increasing rate for many years how could the total cost still be on a rise?

Here are a few statistics for you. Instate tuitions have climbed $400 on average for the 2012 fall semester, bringing the average cost up to $8,655. Yes many would say that this is a moderate increase but in an economic slump this brings more difficulties to already struggling families. Room and board costs have also risen to an average of $17,860. That’s double the cost of a semester at a state university!

The latest study according to the College Board shows that only one-third of full-time students pay the full published price, but with costs increasing the last two years how much longer will it be before more students have to pay that published price?

This brings up the question of whether or not it is worth it to spend your money on a university when one could stay home and attend a lower priced community college. However, according to CNN Money, community college tuition costs have jumped 8.7%. So now what, if we go to college we earn a degree but we dig a hole of debt for ourselves that will in-turn result in years of paying off student loans, possibly taking away most of our income.

The only way to solve this seems to be either do not attend college unless you can pay for it or find a way to end the tuition madness. Unfortunately, since family incomes have been falling for the last four years, the paying for college aspect becomes less of an option.

So how do we attack the monster that is known as college costs? For one students must work harder and challenge themselves by aggressively seeking good educational value, graduating on time and cutting down on personal costs. In doing this we not only reduce the cost ones family has to pay for college but we also better the nation as our future will be full of brighter youthful minds.

Report from New America Foundation on Higher Education

The New American Foundation released a report today outlining the current state of federal financial aid in higher education. Rebalancing Resources and Incentives in Federal Student Aid argues that the existing federal financial aid system has had a

haphazard evolution over the decades [that] has made it inefficient, poorly targeted, and overly complicated.

Despite dramatic growth in federal higher education funding it is still not adequate to help middle class families that have been hit hard by the economic downturn and declining property values. The report states

the federal government has become the funder of last resort in American higher education. As recently as 2002, federal student aid totaled $72 billion per year. By 2012, it had grown to $174 billion—a $102 billion increase in annual aid in just a decade’s time. Most of that money came in the form of federally-backed loans that students are increasingly struggling to repay. Yet despite this wave of new funding, federal lawmakers are struggling to keep vital aid programs afloat.

At the same time, federal policy makers are increasingly focused on getting value from their higher education spending.

Given these circumstances the report states that

More incremental change will not suffice. With the need to support higher learning never greater and fiscal pressures acute, the time has come for a top-to-bottom overhaul of how the federal government manages financial aid. Everything should be on the table: grant aid, loan programs, tax credits, and long-standing subsidies to institutions. Taxpayers and students need an aid system that is simpler, more understandable, more effective, and fairer.

The report offers 30 policy proposals that fit the current era of fiscal austerity because they can be accomplished at

no additional cost to taxpayers — by rebalancing existing resources and better aligning incentives for students and institutions of higher education. Ultimately, those reforms will increase access to high-quality credentials and boost student success in higher education and the workforce.

The report concludes that

decades of accumulated policy offer many opportunities for such reform. Tucked away in the system are inefficiencies and obsolete subsidies that can be used for better purposes. Overlapping programs can be consolidated in ways that make them more generous and understandable. Overly expensive programs that have strayed from their original purposes can be made more affordable for the federal government and more effective at helping students earn degrees.

In fact, there is enough waste and inefficiency in the existing system to substantially increase funding for Claiborne Pell’s foundational grant program, put federal aid on a firm budgetary footing, solve the student loan repayment problem, and provide new incentives to spur college graduation—all for no additional cost to the taxpayer above what is already being spent today.

New Report on State Higher Education Funding

Each year the Grapevine Project at Illinois State University tracks changes in funding for higher education across the 50 states. They have just released their newest report incorporating data for the 2013 fiscal year.  Jordan Weissmann of The Atlantic has some interesting graphic charts from the report summarizing recent changes to state higher education funding. Funding cuts for higher education have be deep. Weissmann states:

Cash-poor state legislatures have gone to town on their higher education budgets, and as they’ve hacked away, tuition has risen along with the sums undergraduates have had to borrow. In total, 38 states cut post-secondary funding since the recession, many by more than a fifth.

Arizona (-36.6%) and New Hampshire (-35.7%) have had the largest cuts to their higher education budgets since 2008. According to Weissmann

collectively, states are spending 10.8 percent less than they were five years ago, when the recession began.

There is some good news as 11 states have increased aid to higher education over this period with North Dakota (+35.4%) and Wyoming (+32.3% ) leading the way.

Vermont Colleges Try Innovative Ways to Reduce Expenses

Susan Stitely, President of the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges, wrote an interesting op-ed article yesterday concerning ways that private colleges in her state were trying to reduce costs. One of the most innovative ways to reduce costs and debt for students was offered by Green Mountain College. They guarantee “that students will graduate in four years or the college will cover all tuition costs for any additional course needed.” Click here to read the article.

Is College Worth It?

College costs are rising at nearly three times the rate of inflation.  More than 1 in 10 students graduate with more than $40,000 in undergraduate student debt.  Fewer entry-level jobs are available for students once they do graduate.  Is it even worth it to go to college anymore? Christina Couch from Bankrate.com explains why it is. Click Here for the article.