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Cost Of College


The increasing cost of a college education has adversely affected the lives of many students and potential students throughout the United States. The “majority of Americans believe the cost of a college education at a state university is unaffordable”. Despite the increasing cost of college, many students still find a way to pursue their education. However, approximately 57% of students cannot attend their college of choice for financial reasons. In other situations, students will rely heavily on student loans as a way of financing their future. 71% of students who graduated with their bachelor’s degree had student loans. The increasing cost of providing individuals with an education has directly hindered the dreams, potential, and willingness of many future, potential, and current students. The need to address the rising cost of college and make obtaining a college degree more affordable is critical in promoting education, economic strength, and the future of the economy.

Although obtaining a college education has always been a costly venture, inflation has drastically increased the affordability of attending college for potential students throughout the United States. In assessing how fast the price of college has increased, the Department of Labor found that the cost of attending college increased 80% between 2003-2013. However, the Department of Labor compared the drastic increase in costs associated with attending college to other industries. In comparison to the medical industry, the cost of attending college has increased 36% more than medical expenses. Compared to the housing industry, the cost of attending college has increased 57% more than the costs of owning a home. Yet, this research further concluded that the number of students attending college nearly doubled during this period. This trend suggests that college is a highly desirable experience for students, as it helps them to gain skills, in hopes of obtaining employment after graduating. Despite this trend, the increased number of students attending college would suggest that there was no strong need to increase the cost of attending college this drastically over the past decade. Instead, the demand would indicate that the number of students deciding to attend college would have resulted in economic successes for colleges, even without raising the cost of enrollment 57%.

The demand for college has drastically increased over the past few decades. For most people a college education has become the necessary admission ticket to good jobs and a middle-class lifestyle”. This perception of need has directly shaped how many students chose to attend college. Yet, parents also play a role in influencing their child’s decision to attend college. “Parents of high school students place especially high importance on a college education, and African American and Hispanic parents give college an even higher priority than do whites”. This trend indicates that minorities, a group that may have been traditionally been less likely to attend college believe that the way to live a comfortable lifestyle is through a college education. Yet the perceived need for a college education is not limited to minorities. Instead more women, regardless of race, are attending college. The number of females attending college from 1991-2002 increased 33%. Although racial and gender statistics may vary, there is an evident belief amongst different groups that a college education is a critical element in securing their child’s future. However, the importance society is placing on college as the main factor in securing a middle-class lifestyle has changed. In the past, society considered other factors such as work ethic, personal skills, and communication skills as elements that would influence the individual’s future. Yet, the qualities that society once ascribed to getting a good job are primarily absent, with most people believing that having a college education is the only way to get a good job.

Although a college degree is highly desirable, the amount of debt a student takes on in order to receive his or her degree is often an adverse factor in attending college. Some research suggests that the amount of debt the student will incur in pursuing his or her education is highly contingent on the type of college the individual chooses to attend. Statistically, there are differences in the number of students who graduate from a four-year degree with student loans. 66% of graduates from public colleges had student loans”. Approximately 75% of students graduating from private college also had student loans. Finally, 88% of students who graduated from for-profit schools had student loans. This trend does in fact suggest that the type of college the student chooses will affect the debt he or she incurs. However, this trend demonstrates that 6 in 10 students and their families could not afford to pay for the cost of a college education without some type of financial assistance.

As the cost of college continuing to rise, the amount of debt students are graduating with has also risen. Of students who attend a public college, the average amount of student loan debt that the student graduates with is $25,550, an increase of 25% from 2008. In contrast, students graduating from private schools owe an average of $32,300, which is an increase of 15% from 2008. Yet, the amount of debt students graduating from a for profit school exceeds both private and public universities. Statistically, students who graduated from a for-profit university had an average of $39,950 in student loans, an increase of 26% from 2008. Long-term, the amount of debt the student takes will affect the decisions he or she makes in the future. Student loans differ from other types of loans, as these are the only types of debt that cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy, regardless of whether or not they were taken from a federal or private entity. As a result, students will live with the cost of college for years after completing their degree.

In assessing why the cost of college continues to rise U.S. News (2014) found that many state schools have experienced budget cuts over the past few years. The adverse economic conditions present in the recession, and recovery periods directly affected how much money states were allocating to education. Yet at the same time, the amount of money that people are making has declined since the 2008 recession. Considering the amount of disposable income consumers make has decline, the cost of college is more than ever, as consumers have less money to spend on providing their child or themselves with a good education.

Although many students graduate with more debt than they have in the past, the need for a college degree has been widely established in exploring how much money individuals make based on their educational attainments. As the individual’s education increases, the amount of money he or she makes per week tends to increase. As a result, individuals with a doctoral degree make almost three times per week than what individuals that did not complete high school make. The prospect of education being able to drastically increase the amount of money the next generation earns has left many parents believing that college is an essential venture for their children.

Even though attending educational attainment has been shown to increase earnings, the amount of money the individual makes per week is heavily subjective. In attending college, individuals receive different skills, education, and training. The overall usefulness of these skills is highly contingent on the demand for these skills. As a result, students who receive skills or training in fields that are growing often have no problem securing work. However, not all skills are as valuable. Students who major in art history, social work, photography, culinary arts, family studies, sociology and psychology are among the worst paid workers directly after college and throughout their career. In viewing the perception that college is an essential factor in securing a prosperous future from this perspective, the individual’s strengths and choice of major directly influence how much he or she will make throughout their lifetime. Despite this prospect, the worst paying college majors also happen to be the most popular college majors in many states. This suggests that many college students are not looking at the demand for skills when they on their major.

Although the perceived societal value ascribed to certain majors may influence what the student makes throughout his or her lifetime, students do not pay their college tuition based on what their major is believed to make. Instead, college students pay the same amount as other students enrolled in the same school, regardless of how valuable their degree may or may not be. However, with the belief that college is the main skill needed to get a good job, it appears as though many people throughout society fail to account for other factors. Amongst these factors include the future employability of the individual based on his or her college major. Approximately 8.9% of college graduates are unemployed. Many of these students believed that a college degree would be what they needed to succeed in their careers. Despite this belief, they still wound up being unemployed. Furthermore, many of these students struggle to determine how to pay their student loans. This can be a difficult venture for an individual who worked hard to succeed in college, only to find out that college is not always enough to make it in the world.

Even though many college students do not think about being unemployed in the future, the prospect of being underemployed is another issue facing many college students. Underemployment differs from unemployment in the sense that the individual is able to find work. However, this work does not require the individual to use his or her skills. For example, a college graduate who majored in sociology may find work at a local Starbucks. Although the student may have been able to secure work, this work does not match his or her skills. Yet certain majors are significantly more likely to experience underemployment than others.

Although college is increasingly important, the United States has one of the highest costs of college when compared to other countries. In Canada, the average cost of a college degree is $5,974. The cost of college in England ($5,288) is similar but slightly less than the cost of attending college in Canada. In Germany, a college degree costs $933. Yet in the United States, student loan debt has exceeded $1 trillion dollars. When compared to other countries, the cost of obtaining a college degree in the United States is drastically higher than many other parts of the world. Although there are no reasons as to why college costs more in the United States, the number of students from the United States pursuing their education in other countries continues to rise. In exploring why college students from the United States are heading to Canada to pursue their education, the prospect of graduating with minimal debt has become the number one reason students from the United States are seeking to attend college in Canada at an increasing rate.

Throughout the United States there is a growing perception that a college degree is the key element to success. Statistically, individuals with a college degree make more than their uneducated counterparts. Furthermore, the most education an individual has, the more money they make. However, college is becoming increasingly unaffordable for people throughout the United States. When compared to other industries, the cost of a college education is growing faster than the average income. Yet the amount of money American workers makes has decline. Despite this prospect, there is an evident demand for a college education. Despite this demand, the amount of money an individual will make is heavily dependent on his or her majors and the skills the individual acquires. However, few students consider the demand for certain skills when choosing what to major in. This is especially problematic, as the number of students graduating with student loans continues to expand. This is best exemplified in the fact the national debt associated with student loans now exceeds $1 trillion. Although the cost of college continues to increase, individuals without a college education have few employment prospects. This leaves many individuals willing to commit to obtaining a college education in hopes of obtaining the skills he or she will need to succeed in the future. In exploring the demand for college, the cost of college, and the pay scales of different majors, something needs to be done in order to make college more affordable. As a country, we need college graduates in order to continue to succeed. From this standpoint, the cost of college and the sacrifices made by college students is essential in ensuring the future successes of the United States. Despite this need, the cost of college has left many students and their families struggling financially.

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