HIGHER EDUCATION COSTS ARE DRIVING THE DEMAND FOR LARGER COLLEGE LOANS

COLLEGE EDUCATION COSTS FOUR TIMES MORE THAN IT DID TWENTY YEARS AGO.

IT GOES UP TWO TO FOUR PERCENT MORE THAN THE INFLATION RATE EACH YEAR. 

Getting a college education makes financial sense. College graduates, on average, make more money than high school graduates.  However, a caveat must be added. It makes financial sense if you can make a decent living after you have made your payment on your college loan.  A lot can’t.  Many can’t pay back the loans. Loans have gotten larger and larger over the years because the cost of  getting a college degree has skyrocketed.  That was the subject we discussed in our Columbus State University Continuing Education Columbus Academy of Lifelong Learning “What’s Happening?” Class. It’s a current events class.  It was an excellent discussion, in my view, probably because we have a lot of retired educators in the class.   There was one area, though, that got very little attention: why has the cost of a college education skyrocketed over the years?  I decided to Google it, and, sure enough, I found an article that answers that question.  

An article on the NPR website on a report on “Fresh Air” entitled “What’s Driving College Costs Higher”  tells of how the rapidly rising increases in tuition and other costs are forcing students to have to borrow more to stay in school.  Two-thirds of college students get college loans.  The increases are not because of increased pay to professors. Their pay has been stagnant for a number of years. However, another report tells us that is not the case with administrative salaries.  They have been dramatically increasing, and universities have been expanding administrative staffs.

Georgia is one of a very few states that offer scholarships to all students who keep their grades up.  The HOPE scholarship program, funded by the state lottery, has not been able to keep up with the dramatic rising tuition costs and now pays only a portion of the costs.  

It appears that universities need to concentrate more on cutting costs and less on expansion. Why the emphasis on growth? Why is bigger better when it comes to higher education facilities?   One argument is that larger student bodies mean more subjects can be taught.  Some believe, however, it boils down to university presidents striving to increase their status by being president of larger student bodies.  Whatever the reason, cost cutting needs to be getting a lot more attention for the sake of America’s middle and lower class students who are feeling the cost squeeze the most. Massive defaults on paying off the loans – they amount to over a trillion dollars now – could disastrously affect the nation’s economy.  

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