$ of Higher Education

In the midst of conversations regarding the recession and the bailout, I find myself talking with colleagues, friends and family about the complex price tag of higher education.  If you’re like me or have a curiosity regarding the topic, take a moment to bone up by reading this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education’s piece STICKER SHOCK: The $375-Billion Question: Why Does College Cost So Much?  Here’s a few paragraphs which I’ll refer in the coming days (Note:  read the article for the data/examples): 

A poll of likely voters commissioned by the National Education Association and released two weeks ago showed that 70 percent of parents and 65 percent of students said making college affordable was an important issue for them in the fall election.  …

We begin with two important truths: The problem is real, but it isn’t nearly as bad as the general public perceives it to be. The problem also is no longer nearly as dismissible as many higher-education and policy leaders have let it become. …

Colleges rely more than ever on tuition dollars to cover their costs, says the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability.

That’s not primarily because colleges are spending more per student, but because subsidies, the other sources of revenue that colleges depend on to make up the difference between what students pay and what it actually costs to educate them, are declining in proportion to overall costs. …

The analogy goes even further. Just as families need affordable health care, they increasingly see a college education as “incredibly important” to their future and that of their children, he says. So as college seems to be more out of reach, their anxiety is nearing the boiling point.

Over his 14 years of looking at polling and focus-group data, Mr. Immerwahr says he senses an “angrier mood” over college costs. Families may be less upset about college than they are about health care, he says, only because they still see safety valves in the higher-education system, things like community colleges and part-time programs at four-year colleges.

Those options keep access to college in sight, he says. “Otherwise people would be going nuts.”

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Tom Grosh IV

Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the South Central PA Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). The Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine is the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!

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One Comment

  • andunning@gmail.com'
    Andrew Dunning commented on October 7, 2008 Reply

    We have similar sorts of problems in Canada, but it’s not quite as bad as you have it yet. On a lighter note, though, take a look at this comic.

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