Let’s consider this: You just graduated from college and paid about four times as much for your degree as someone who graduated 20 years ago. There is no direct evidence that you will have a job lined up, or that you received a degree four times as good as someone who graduated in the 90’s. Some critics would ponder if the degree you received is even four times as good.
In the late 1980’s, on average, U.S. students spent $12,000 a year for tuition, including room and board, to receive a bachelor’s degree. Those attending private universities paid on average $30,000, not including room and board.
The end result: student loan debt is surpassing $1 trillion in national debt, as well as surpassing mortgage and credit card debt. In fact, student loans have basically quadrupled since the late 90’s. In many news articles you’ll see and hear about “predatory” student loan operations at institutions that were supposed to be providing a “public good.”
What gives colleges the audacity to increase fees to $45,000 per year when your degree won’t even guarantee employment? It’s partly due to the financial waste caused by colleges building new, extravagant facilities. Some colleges are now discussing new strategies to help cut costs by reducing the amount spent on educating students. For example, at some universities, students are watching YouTube for instruction and professors are sharing office items. And many undergraduate students will most likely receive instruction from graduate teaching assistants instead of the big-name professors.
The reality is that today’s college graduate may actually be luckier than those who will obtain degrees in the future. Prices are on track to rise to the point where only the super-rich will be able to pay the cost of attendance. Colleges will also likely begin concentrating less on educating students and focus more on real estate development.
If something is not done to stop the inflation of college tuition, a four-year degree will only be for the super wealthy and connected, while middle-class minority students are priced out of the college market. For students who come from wealthy backgrounds, a $50,000 to $100,000 tuition bill is still affordable. However, for someone whose family barely makes more than $50,000, this option is far from reality.
Roy Paul is a political speaker, commentator, and activist. He has interviewed the likes of Dr. Maya Angelou, former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, Lilly Ledbetter, Bertha Lewis, Dr. Elsie Scott, and has written features on Eartha Kitt, Madam C.J. Walker, Percy Sutton, and Marcus Garvey, just to name a few. Paul received is B.A. in Political Science from Queens College of the City University of New York and has his M.A. in Media Studies from the New School University in Manhattan.