Income vs. the cost of higher education
In the past few months, I’ve become interested in education statistics — specifically, the increasing cost of education in the past twenty years as it relates to income levels. I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around what it will mean for Americans if higher education becomes unattainable due to the unreasonable amount of debt resulting from the cost (Yes, I realize we might already be there).
A friend of mine shared recently that he thought he was planning ahead 18 years ago when he saved money for a college fund. It turns out that saving for 18 years gave him 6 months of tuition. Ouch.
According to a recent NY Times article, published college tuition and fees increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007 while median family income rose 147 percent (these figures have not been adjusted for inflation). Keep in mind that 2007 was prior to the recession and our country now has a 9.1% unemployment rate (also remember that the unemployment rate is based on the 50% of the population that is willing and physically able to work). The same NY Times article also reported that student borrowing has more than doubled in the last ten years.
What we’re looking at here is an education system that is propped up by loans because the average American can’t afford to pay for school out-of-pocket. I still believe in the value of education or else I would not be returning to school, but I have serious concerns for the financial implications of this trend on future Americans. Do I have answers to this complex problem? Certainly not. Do I think this is something worth discussing and considering? Absolutely.
Have an opinion? Post your comments here on the blog. I’d really like to hear from you.