The Rising Cost of College

Due to rising college costs, it is becoming increasingly difficult for lower to middle class families to afford college.  If colleges do not find ways to help these students be able to attend college, we may be left with a situation where students are able to get into college, but cannot pay for their education.  With the cost of college rising much faster than the rate of inflation, and more than the rate of most salary increases, this is becoming an issue that needs to be addressed.

Poor are Paying More for College

It sounds backwards, but the Mercury News in California recently released a story showing that college costs for low-income freshman have risen 60% over the past 3 years to around $26,000.  This is compared to a much lower 6 percent net cost increase for wealthier students.  While wealthier students do still pay more on average, they are also receiving a large number of discounts and financial aid which some argue should be going to lower income students.

An interesting fact is that families who make less than 30,000 per year are now expected to pay more than their annual income per year in college costs.  This is obviously not possible and therefore it creates a barrier to attend college for many lower income families.

States are choosing to No Longer Offset College Costs

For many years, most states used a large portion of tax income to help defray college costs.  This helped to mitigate the cost increases that are now so common.  Since the 1980’s, states have slowly been reallocating funds that were once going to defray the cost of college into other areas that they deemed more important.  A report in BusinessWeek shows that if something is not done about this phenomenon, some states will actually stop supporting college education through tax benefits over the next decade.

Financial Aid becoming More Important for College Choice

In the past, students typically picked the college based on their interests and whether that school had majors that aligned with these interests.  As college costs have increased, this is no longer the case.  Now the amount of financial aid that students are able to receive from certain colleges is driving their college decision.  This shows that as the cost of college continues to rise, students are having to forego their dreams of attending the school they love and instead attend a school that is able to offer them more in terms of financial aid.

What Does this Say to Young College Students?

It is sad that based on the rising costs of college, we are essentially telling our budding young people that you are on your own.  If these costs continue to rise over the next few decades, there will come a time when not only poor families are not able to send their kids to college, but wealthier families may not be able to as well.  Hopefully lawmakers will take note of this dangerous trend and help to slow the rise of these incredible college costs.

About the Author

Johnny Rogers is the creator of – The Online College Planning Guide. If you found this article useful, please consider Liking My Facebook Fan Page or Following College Tidbits on Twitter.

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(image from Daphne Koller’s TED talk, 2012)

Image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike license.

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