The article below lays a sad reality emerging in America.
The rising cost of college — even before the recession — threatens to put higher education out of reach for most Americans, according to the annual report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.
Over all, the report found, published college tuition and fees increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007, adjusted for inflation, while median family income rose 147 percent.
Student borrowing has more than doubled in the last decade, and students from lower-income families, on average, get smaller grants from the colleges they attend than students from more affluent families.
“If we go on this way for another 25 years, we won’t have an affordable system of higher education,” said Patrick M. Callan, president of the center, a nonpartisan organization that promotes access to higher education.
“When we come out of the recession,” Mr. Callan added, “we’re really going to be in jeopardy, because the educational gap between our work force and the rest of the world will make it very hard to be competitive. Already, we’re one of the few countries where 25- to 34-year-olds are less educated than older workers.”
“The middle class has been financing it through debt,” he said. “The scenario has been that families that have a history of sending kids to college will do whatever if takes, even if that means a huge amount of debt.”
But low-income students, he said, will be less able to afford college. Already, he said, the strains are clear.
The report, “Measuring Up 2008,” is one of the few to compare net college costs — that is, a year’s tuition, fees, room and board, minus financial aid — against median family income. Those findings are stark. Last year, the net cost at a four-year public university amounted to 28 percent of the median family income, while a four-year private university cost 76 percent of the median family income.
Among the poorest families — those with incomes in the lowest 20 percent — the net cost of a year at a public university was 55 percent of median income, up from 39 percent in 1999-2000. At community colleges, long seen as a safety net, that cost was 49 percent of the poorest families’ median income last year, up from 40 percent in 1999-2000.___________________________
“Projecting out to 2036, tuition would go from 11 percent of the family budget to 24 percent of the family budget, and that’s pretty huge,” Mr. Shulenburger said. “We only looked at tuition and fees because those are the only things we can control.”
Sorry if this a little too personal a testimonial but what the hell.....besides family, I owe everything to the educational opportunities of which I was able to take great advantage in my life.
But like so many from middle class or lesser economic background, I relied heavily on merit scholarships, work-study, student loans, and personal savings from minimum wage work, to access a first-class education.
I was fortunate enough in high school to earn a 50% academic scholarship at Archmere Academy. I put myself through Georgetown University on the GI Bill, earned from a 3 year active duty enlistment I entered after freshman year, and an Army ROTC scholarship after I returned. I still owe substantial loans for law school at UVA.
All of this was worth the hardships of military service and worth the work of studying hard and trying to make the most of my formal education. Above all, it was the willing-to-reward-initative generosity inherent in the programs in which I took part that made it all possible. Without them I may have had to settle for less, a discount on my dreams.
I know I would have been just as happy turning a wrench or pounding fenders, since I did this for years to make money for school. But I doubt I would ever be as fulfilled as I believe life has been because of such a wonderful and diverse educational journey.
Not everyone has to have a college education. The worth and prosperity of our society rests as much on those who are technical laborers as on the college-educated, if not more. But those who want to go the higher education route should always have that opportunity, irrespective of their economic station in life.
On the flip side, young people need to be educated from very early on that college is not some libertine escape from adolescent family life, a party stop before they have to get real - and thus often just a pre-workforce mill allowing for escapism.
Getting real may have to come early for many, if they are serious about developing their talents and managing their lives to meet their highest potential through college and beyond. Unfortunately I think the popular culture pushes against such values, such that many young people rather than working to achieve their dreams are instead preening to chase fantasies.
Ultimately each individual is responsible for their own higher education. But it should never be beyond reach for anyone willing to apply themselves and work hard.
Undoubtedly Delaware Libertarian Godfather Steve Newton may have some insights to share, far better than mine. I certainly don't have the answers, only observations. I know we can't ignore this ominous portent that wealth rather than merit will continue to reinforce itself.