Why Does College Cost so Much?
If you are like many American college students, you have probably waited anxiously with great fear and trepidation for the letter. When it finally arrives, you grab it from the mail stack, rip it with shaking fingers, shut your eyes tight and wince before you cautiously open them a crack to see if the letter contains good news or bad. No, it’s not your ACT score, it's not your college acceptance letter… it’s your financial aid award letter.
The anticipation and anxiety that the financial aid award letter brings is due to the high cost of college. After ACT scores and acceptance letters, these high costs are probably the biggest worry that many people have concerning higher education. The rapidly rising cost of college tuition has easily outpaced inflation rates, and quite honestly, many Americans can no longer afford to spend tremendous sums of money on higher education. Without the cash to pay for school, many students have taken on a heavy debt load, not only through their own personal student loans, but also through the increased taxes that pay for the many college grants the government hands out.
Government loans and subsidies may seem like a good idea to help students attend college, but are they really necessary? Many have begun to wonder whether higher education subsidies have actually helped to drive college costs up rather than down, for it is these same subsidies that have allowed colleges to drastically increase their tuition rates.
There are two views on this issue. According to the first view, college is a necessity that should be accessible at any cost. The second view questions whether too many students are going to college. This latter view advocates for more vocational training, reduced federal spending, and other alternative forms to brick-and-mortar higher education.
At one time the benefits of a college education made sense. Times have changed. Today many students are realizing that they will graduate school with a mountain of debt, be competing in a difficult job market that pays less than expected, and then will be facing more debt obligations as they settle into the "real world" often with a car loan, a home mortgage, and other challenges. The return on the college investment just isn't there anymore for many students. In this environment, is it any surprise that many Americans are looking for a better way forward for higher education?
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