This is the burning question for a many years now:
Is the price too high for what you actually get from a college education?
…I think that is the wrong question….
Let’s look at price first:
The average student loan debt for an average college graduate is around $25,000 and the total amount of student loans has risen past credit card debt ($1,000,000,000,000.00+) ß That’s more than one TRILLION dollars. That $25,000 makes no sense to me since I have way more than that and I’m sure many others do too. Ask people who went to college in the 80’s and 90’s how much it cost them to go to college. I’ll bet 100% on it them saying it was cheaper than it is now (including inflation in the equation).
Couple fun statistics on price:
1. The price of education, per year on average, rises 3x as much as our inflation rate.
2. The Goldwater Institute reported that the number of administrator’s per 100 students grew 39% from 1993-2007. (One reason why the cost is increasing – why do we need 3.9 more administrator’s for each student?)
College students don’t understand how limiting student loan debt is until they actually get the first bill. From personal experience, I need to make a certain amount of money in order to pay not only my living expenses, but my student loans as well. I’m fortunate enough I am able to afford it, and live too, but most recent college graduates are not.
The point on price: It’s rising FAST. Everyone wants more kids out of high school to go to college. Well if more go to college, costs will go up even more in the current financial model. It slows down the economy for the United States. How can recent college graduates help the economy, if they are drowning in student loans? If we want more kids to go to college, we not only have to change the way we teach (which is a whole different blog post), but we have to make it more economical.
Now let’s focus on value:
It’s hard to say. I don’t really believe that it can be purely a financial calculation. There is a lot of intangible value that education brings:
From a purely financial standpoint: (1) Tuition prices are rising faster than American incomes (2) delinquent payments and deferments are at an all-time high. I would have to guess that if education was worth it, delinquent payments and deferments would be going down and American incomes would be going up because we have more people than ever getting degrees? I’m no economist, but that’s just my guess.
Point on value: Looking from a purely financial point of view it seems like college is becoming less and less valuable to the individual. The new things you learn, the people you meet, the experiences you have, however, can’t have a price put on them.
The only way I see it, is if I can answer the question myself personally? To ask me if I think the price of education is more than the value of it, I’d have to say I honestly don’t know yet. I am happy I went to school for many reasons. I think I could have went to school for a whole lot cheaper.
But I don’t believe that it’s about value vs. price – I think it’s about asking different questions:
Is it ethically and morally right to have education costs be as high as they are when there are obvious ways in which we can make it more affordable for students? Is it good for the future economy and our future kids to keep prices on education rising the way they are? Is teaching in the traditional system going to be financially sustainable enough to give future generations a competitive chance in the global economy?
The whole problem is not value vs price. It’s the system in which the government, educational institutions, and corporate America make it seem it’s the only option for the masses to grow financially and professionally. Right now, they say the only acceptable road to a professional more promising life, for the masses, is a one way street that includes a heavy toll. It’s not that there is physically only one road, because there are many new, beautifully paved roads waiting to be used that have been built way cheaper and much more effective. The problem is we just have government, educational institutions and corporate America blocking those roads. If we can take the barricades off these newly formed paths, education will become more affordable than ever. Once corporate America starts accepting alternative and cheaper forms of education into the workforce, then you’ll see the revolution start to happen, and I think it could happen FAST! (Note 1: Alternative and cheaper does not mean less qualified. The solutions I am talking about could potentially make people even more qualified.)
It is insane to me to think that there are better and more economical ways to teach more people to be better citizens and contribute more to society starring in our face as we speak, but we can’t get out of our own way to let it happen.
In a future post I am going to talk about some ideas I have that could dramatically decrease the cost for an individual to go to college. If you have ideas, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or leave a comment on Facebook. Would love to hear your ideas on how to make education not only better but more economical.