Cost of College

by Justin Clatworthy

The value of a college education is undeniable. However, the cost to attend college has been steadily increasing over the last few decades. The cost has increased more than four times faster than inflation in that same period of time. Some university’s tuition has risen to over $60,000 a year for a four year degree.

 The returns on the large cost of attending college vary depending on the degree that someone earns. A person that graduates with a degree in computer science is likely to make more than $1.7 million more than someone with no degree over the course of 20 years. The opposite of this is that a person with a degree in humanities and English will be more than $132,000 behind someone with no degree over that same span of time. It is believed that if universities had a greater incentive in the success of their students after graduation they would push them to more financially satisfying degrees. This discrepancy would possibly begin to correct itself if the job market were to improve.

 Another way to improve this discrepancy is to lower the overall cost of college. One of the main reasons that the price has increased so much is that tuition is going to things other than education. These include new dormitories, athletics, and numerous administrators. Another method that is starting to be used to lower the cost of college is online classes. The downside to online courses is that many American universities do not give respectable degrees to those students that took online courses.

“Making College Cost Less.” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 05 Apr. 2014. Web. <>.

College Savings Enhancement Act

Derek Harzinski

Over the past several decades the cost of college education has rose to 13 times the cost that it used to be, that’s a 1,225% increase. An increase that is much more than the rate of inflation and food costs over the same amount of time. 

Representative Robert Hurt of Virginia came to the realization that families need some type of program to have access to financial planning for the increasing costs of college education. There are already programs called “529 Plans”, that are set up to help families learn how to properly save and invest for college. Thus his creation was the “College Savings Enhancement Act” which would allow the state-run prepaid college savings plans the freedom to invest more broadly, allowing them to be able to meet their obligations to the families purchasing their plans. Not only does Virginia offer college savings plans but so do several other states, including Pennsylvania. 

This act is currently moving through congress, and if it is passed it will solve the problem that the “529 plans” are experiencing. These plans also include the prepaid plans, and it also provides tax-advantaged options. The problem is that because of these plan’s classification, they are unable to invest in ways to maximize returns and meet the obligations to their customers. 

If this act passes through congress it will make higher education more accessible for all states that have adopted the “529 Plans” and also convince other states who do not have it to follow suit. 



State Higher Ed and Reduced Funding

by Maria McLaughlin

When students today are enrolling in colleges and universities across the United States the costs as well as the funding is much different than it was a few decades ago. It is interesting to note that 48 out of 50 states are spending less money to finance student educations than they were prior to the ‘Great Recession.’ This means that only 2 out of 50 states are spending the same or more money on financing student educations. Many states are even continuing the trend of reducing funding, which seems to be a problem for students who are collecting boatloads of debt as they continue through college.

States contribute greater than 50% of the financial support that public institutions need. The reduction in public educational spending has detrimental effects directly on the students of these universities. This results in the increase of tuition and decrease in educational services. It was reported in CBPP that since the 2007-2008 academic year, tuition has risen on average 28% (~$1,936 inflation adjusted). Some states have increased by double that rate, and upwards of 80% increases. These factors don’t even represent the increases in tuition for private colleges and universities.

Higher amounts of tuition are spiraling students into debt by the second. This is alarming also because there are high levels of interest that can accompany a student’s finances, depending on the lender. It is disappointing to note that states are continuing to reduce funding for students, and it is a serious issue to be loading on debt to our nation’s future.

Reference: “States are Still Cutting Funding for Higher Education.” 1 May 2014. Huffington Post

Higher Education – 2016 Presidential Debate Topic Without Question

by Kyle Purchase

The next presidential debate is in two years and likely runners such as Jeb Bush (kin to Presidents 41 & 43) as well as Hillary Clinton, want to express how crucial higher education is and how important it is for it to be affordable.

“Higher education in America has a growing affordability problem while billions in the developing world struggle with accessibility. Exporting U.S. post-secondary education and global consumers at scale can help really resolve both issues simultaneously”

Bush said. “Expanding access through technology can bring down the cost of delivery at home and abroad.” Jeb Bush is pushing the fact that connecting the two issues together might be able to solve one another.

Mrs. Clinton had this to add:

“…that we’re closing the doors to higher education in our own country so this great model that we’ve had that has meant so much to so many is becoming further and further away from too many.”

If we don’t solve this problem now, nobody might not want to go to college due to the fear of debt or a lack of jobs available in the their degree field. Normally in a presidential election candidates will talk about the economy or foreign policy and education, higher education especially, isn’t mentioned a great deal. If the economy is being talked about, they need to make sure they say something about higher education.–election.html

A New Perspective

by Andrea Stickley

For the past two years, CSCubed’s focus has been on creating a new grant program for students in the middle-income class range because studies have shown that they’re incurring the most debt from college. A recent study conducted by a Dartmouth assistant professor found that about 41% of students left school with some level of debt. However, the surprising results came from the fact that it was the lower-middle-income class ($40,000-$59,000) have the most debt post graduation. In this study, these students had more debt than those from families earning between $60,000-$99,000. While this doesn’t downplay the fact that advocating for grants for students whose parents earn between $80,000-$110,000, it does give me pause to think about those other students who are affected by debt. Everyone out there, from any range of income level, can suffer from college debt. So let’s not forget about those other students outside of our range of focus that are incurring debt because one day they may start advocating for the same thing that we’re currently doing.

President Obama & College Costs

by Carly Wray

As tuition and fees went through the roof the past decade, it makes it a lot more difficult for middle class families to invest in a higher education for their future. Today the average student borrows and adds more debt than ever before. In a recent study, students today owe more than 29,000 dollars – which surpasses the average credit card debt for the first time in history. President Obama is expanding federal support to help students pay for college and helping students promote the shared responsibility in fighting rising college costs. The government has invested in student aid since the G.I. Bill to create reform in higher education funding. This will help students afford college and manage debt. To ensure college completion, we need more security for the middle class, college needs to be more accessible, affordable and attainable (White House).

Higher Education/The White House

Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush say Higher Education is Out of Reach for Too Many

by Gary Masino

The Washington Post reports that Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, two leading presidential candidates from opposing parties, spoke out on last month at a conference in Dallas about higher education becoming financially out of reach for too many young Americans. This is the third time over the past year that Bush and Clinton appeared at the same public event, offering a possible glimpse of the 2016 presidential election race. Bush asserts that technology could help make college more affordable in the U.S and more accessible to foreign students. He believes expanding the market of students could in turn lower the cost for our own students. Although Clinton agreed, she argued that technology is no substitute for the kind of learning that occurs in a classroom full of peers. “Technology is a tool not a teacher” — Clinton argues. Technology cannot teach creativity and critical thinking she explained. She is calling on the U.S. to “Redefine higher education” to provide more opportunities for people to gain vocational and technical skills, and to “reorient our social expectations” to encourage more young people to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.


Middle Class Student Debt Issue

by Wade Dickey

Students going to college are being bombarded with debt after they graduate. But it is the middle class people that are truly taking the hit. An article by NBC News says that it isn’t the low-income class students that are coming out with the most debt after college because they are eligible for grants, scholarships, and financial aid. And the higher class can most of the time pay for their children to go to school out of pocket. So that middle class stuck between them are the ones that don’t have enough money to pay out of pocket, and are not eligible for grants and financial aid like the lower class. So what can they do? The answer is that they are forced to pull out student loans if they want to go to college.

The article states, “Seven out of 10 college seniors who graduated in 2012 had student loan debt, averaging $29,400 per borrower, according to a separate study by the Institute for College Access & Success, up from $26,600 in 2011” ( Student debt is not just going away, this is a problem that is increasingly becoming an issue for students and specifically middle class citizens. So something needs to be done to help these kids graduate with less debt in the state and federal government.

#1 Reason for the Price of College: Supply & Demand

Remember the concepts you learned in your first economics class? GDP, unemployment rates, pricing etc. It turns out, one of those concepts are the very reason for the price of college today. According to Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry from, the reason for the high price of college is actually painfully obvious. He says that if you increase the want or need for something without increasing the amount you have, then the price will go up in a free market. Prices are signals in a capitalistic market economy. When a price is high, it is either more of a luxury good or it is a highly sought after good. Most people do not believe that college is a luxury item so that means that college is very valuable to people. They are willing to pay very high prices to obtain degrees. Because of this willingness and the easy access to tens of thousands of dollars in financial aid from the government, demand for college increased dramatically in the past 30 years. And, not coincidentally, prices sky rocketed too.

Financial Aid loans were meant to help more people get into college and create a more educated workforce. Do these loans really increase the price of college overall? Gobry gives the example that “US colleges that don’t accept Federal loans have tuition roughly half of their similarly-ranked peers.” For colleges that do not accept federal loans from students, the prices are almost half as much as the other colleges. Inflation in tuition for those colleges are substantially less. Even if you are an ardent supporter of higher education in this country, will you support these loans no matter how high prices climb?