You can’t deny the power of a college degree when it comes to salary and long-term financial well-being. An individual (age 25 to 34) with a high school diploma earns on average $25,000 per year. An individual in the same age group with a four-year college degree earns on average $40,000 per year according to a 2011 report released by the National Center for Education Statistics. However, with college prices escalating and the concerns over student loan debt, many college candidates are thinking twice about the $200,000+ price tag.
In the last twenty years, the cost of college has sky-rocketed nearly 500%. That is almost five times the rate of the U.S. consumer price index. State colleges have offset the expenses slightly through tax funds. But, what is driving the enormous rise?
Many are quick to blame tenure and the sabbatical policy of most universities. Sabbaticals are granted to many professors once every three to seven years. When was the last time you heard about a Fortune 100 Company granting such a benefit to their management? What about tenure? Nice gig, if you can get it. However troubling this is, the real problem appears to lie within the expansion of administrators and the salary increases given to the administrators.
According to the Goldwater Institute, “Between 1993 and 2007, the number of full-time administrators per 100 students at America’s leading universities grew by 39%, while the number of employees engaged in teaching, research or service only grew by 18%. Inflation-adjusted spending on administration per student increased by 61% during the same period, while instructional spending per student rose 39%.”
This rise in price has become an impossible burden for many. At some point will a college education become financially unattainable by most Americans? Will colleges begin to behave as a corporation in which the cost of administration must be controlled or the college becomes defunct? Will Americans finally say, “Enough!” and demand that their states to put a lid on the costs so the colleges are focused on the needs of taxpayers? Ultimately it is the taxpayers, college students, and parents of college students who must demand better of the college system. Until taxpayers declare that “they won’t take it anymore!” and call for change in the way the system is structured, including the financial aspects of the system, the enormous fees will likely continue to rise. On a personal note, I have two children that are nearing the time to start exploring these options; and I definitely would like to see a system-wide overhaul that would keep college affordable. What do you think? If you have thoughts about this topic, I would love to hear from you. All posts will be kept anonymous.