Rising U.S. college tuition rates

Report on Rising U.S. college tuition rates

What does the future of higher education look like?

By Greg Roth

For many students, higher education debt is often viewed as a necessary evil. The upfront investment in an education is traditionally offset by greater earning power over the individual's lifetime. College may be expensive in the short term, but when college graduates experience much lower unemployment rates and stand to earn as much as $1 million more than high school grads over their lifetime[1], the thinking goes that college pays for itself in the long term.

The question is, in the next 10 to 20 years, will the middle class get priced out of college altogether? With state budgets in crisis mode, education funding is in a precarious position, to say the least. In Washington State, for example, this year marks a record low in the proportion of funding that the state provides for higher education in Washington. The combination of a state budget crisis, a sluggish economy and high enrollment means paying for college may be more of a challenge than getting into the right school or choosing the correct major and career path.[2]

Department of Education ranks highest college tuition rates

On the national level, for the first time ever, the Department of Education is publishing rankings of the highest tuition rates in the country. The site, collegecost.ed.gov, bases its rankings on data that colleges themselves report annually to the federal government. These rankings are broken down into sections for private, public, for-profit and community colleges. Some institutions of higher learning are not thrilled with the idea, saying the numbers can be misleading.[3]

Meanwhile, a study by Moody's (see chart) illustrates how college tuition prices have not only risen, but have inflated at a pace grater than such sectors of life as energy, housing, and health care.[4] Let's take a closer look at the current state of tuition prices in the U.S.


[1] http://money.cnn.com/2011/06/13/news/economy/college_tuition_middle_class/index.htm

[2] http://www.thenewstribune.com/2011/05/07/1656651/incoming-college-freshmen-face.html

[3] http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2011-06-29-college-tuition-increases-most-expensive_n.htm

[4] http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2011/08/chart-college-tuition-will-not-stop-rising/41325/