The modern college education is expensive. Any inquiry made to a household with children in post-secondary institutions reveals that the cost of education is continually rising (Hall 105). Even though the cost of living has generally skyrocketed throughout the 21st century, it is apparent that the cost of a college education is rapidly rising at a pace higher than that of general inflation. Therefore, it can be argued that it has not been a short-term challenge in the growth and development of education. It appears that the cost of a college education has always been on the rise even if the economy is performing well.
To begin with, it is crucial to imagine and conceptualize the importance of education to both an individual and society. Arguably, individuals who have not graduated from high school earn less than those who acquire college certificates. On average, about $23,452 per annum is earned by a person who has not completed high school education in the United States. On the other hand, individuals who attain college degrees and diplomas can earn as much as $41,444 per year (Kane 146). Statistics also reveal that non-high school graduates comprise close to 70 percent of the prison population in the United States.
From these figures, we can infer that normal life may be attained or guaranteed if individuals graduate from the high school level. Additionally, people who hold a 2-year or associate degree may only earn an average level salary while a holder of a four-year degree certificate can reap as much as $55,000 per annum. For postgraduate holders, close to $65,000 can be earned within one year. These figures illustrate that the level of earning is directly proportional to the level of education acquired by an individual. The latter also correlates with the amount of wealth accumulated over a given period. The level of education and the rate of unemployment are on par with each other. The lowest level of education attracts the highest rate of unemployment in the society.
The surest way to equalize communities across the nation is through education. The latter also facilitates the dream of an individual to live a decent life. In the absence of education, society cannot prosper (Daun-Barnett and Moronski-Chapman 61). Regardless of the poor and humble background of a given segment of the population, it is always possible to pull up resources to acquire valuable education and eventually end a dire state of poverty.
Owing to the vital roles played by education in society, families usually struggle to take their children to learning institutions to improve their lives. As much as the projected cost of a college education continues to soar, parents and guardians do not have any reprieve in the payment of school levies even at the elementary and high school levels. It is highly recommended for the government to provide free education for children up to the age of 18 years (Vedder and Denhar par. 4).
An increase of 147% in the income of a typical family has been witnessed since 1982 (Martin 58). This increase is indeed above the inflation level. However, the rise is not compatible with the significant increase in tuition fees paid by college students. In other words, college fees have risen beyond the available income. A rise of about seven percent has been observed in the number of college fees paid by students. In any case, a 500% inflation rise has been observed in the overall cost of a college education since the mid of 1980s.
Private fundraising and tax dollars have significantly assisted state colleges to maintain a reasonable fee structure for students. However, the latter is no longer practiced bearing in mind that each state has its financial turmoil to address. When adequate support used to be given to state-owned colleges, the cost of education was rather low compared to the current situation. There is no apparent effort that is being put in place to address the rising cost of college levies. Even at a time when college fees are being underwritten partially, families are still feeling the pinch of educating their children through these institutions (Bennett 42).
We may not refute the fact that colleges also subject themselves to gross inflation owing to a weak performing economy. Inflation in both state and private colleges are also worsened by massive development and expansion programs that surpass the available revenues. The construction of computer laboratories and other practical science facilities can be a costly venture for colleges with a large number of enrolled students. However, most of the finances required to execute development projects in colleges come from debts and donations. Hence, loans have to be borrowed from financial institutions to fund development projects.
Worse still, the cost of labor is usually overwhelming for most colleges. In the United States alone, a 35 percent rise in the cost of a college education was recorded within four years from 1993 to 1997 (McMahon 73). However, tuition costs rose by 39 percent while a 61 percent increase was witnessed in the administrative expenses. The expansion of administrative bureaucracies in colleges and universities is a major cost burden for students. A college education may not necessarily be too high when all the aforementioned factors are put into consideration (Selingo 107).
The tenure policy in colleges is not pleasant or favorable at all when it comes to the management of college levies (Babcock and Marks 468). Even in cases whereby professors and other teaching staff are not performing well in their respective departments, the tenure policy in most colleges and universities usually guarantees them lifetime employment. Performance appraisal does not serve any positive function in colleges (Thelin 133).
They are merely carried out as a formality and do not assist in laying off unproductive workers. Approximately 50 percent of full-time staff members in colleges are on a permanent tenure. Sabbatical leaves are also frequent among college tutorial fellows and professors (O’Shaughnessy 164). These do not add value to students. The cost of education is increased owing to such malpractices.
The demand for higher education is also on a sharp rise. According to the laws of demand and supply, the price of a commodity is expected to go up when the demand is high (Archibald and Feldman 76). On the same note, a low supply agitates a high price. It is common knowledge that the number of students who graduate from high schools usually surpass the available slots in colleges and universities. Individuals born from 1988 to 1995 comprise the baby boomers. They are actively seeking admissions in the available colleges. Such a high demand for college education explains the reason why the cost of education is continually rising (Martin “cost control” 5).
High schools are more in number than colleges. Meeting such a high number for college admissions compels college authorities to increase levies because it is an open opportunity to make additional revenue (Shumar 22). The normal economic factors are no longer considered by college authorities whenever they want to hike fees and other related charges. To allow greater participation, there is an urgent need to add capacities in both private and state-owned colleges. However, a college education might eventually be out of reach to most people if the current increases in the overheads are not checked or regulated. Cost control measures are crucial in colleges (Breneman and Yakoboski 29).
A typical family can spend as much as $30,000 to pay tuition fees for two children within one year (Hernon 84). There are thousands of parents who can hardly support their families when it comes to basic bills such as food, water, gas, and electricity. Hence, any sporadic rise in college levies spells doom for such parents. The increasing number of scholarships can be explained by the fact that college fees are becoming increasingly unbearable to most households. Also, there are hundreds of students in colleges who opt to work part-time against their wishes so that they can contribute towards tuition fees for colleges. Such students can hardly concentrate on their studies because they work and attend lectures at the same time.
The emergence of student loans in most countries is self-explanatory. There are countless numbers of students who completely rely on loans from financial institutions to cater to their studies. Parents are also not spared at all since they are forced to spend their meager savings on college fees. Student debts arising from bank loans are becoming a real threat. Several colleges lack incentives that can be used to improve efficiency and boost revenue base.
Parents and guardians can’t afford college fees when expenses are higher than revenues. Therefore, there is a need to subsidize college education owing to the ever-rising costs. Also, the quality of education offered to students should be on par with the levies charged in colleges. Policymakers ought to strike a balance between cost and quality of education in institutions of higher learning.
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