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How to Make Higher Education Affordable for All: Yes, It’s Possible

You’ve done it. You’ve studied hard for four years and made your way to high school graduation. Your college has been chosen, the mini fridge and floor lamp are packed in the overstuffed car, and you’ve said goodbye to your home-town friends. But one thing is weighing on your mind – how do I afford this? The thing is – most can’t.

The median household income in the United States is $56,516 per year. The Panther reported that “according to the College Board, the average published yearly tuition and fees for a public four-year college in the United States is $9,410 for in-state students, $23,890 for out-of-state students, and $32,410 for a four-year private college.” Technically, your parents can afford the yearly tuition costs – if they were to eliminate all other family costs and live off of $24,000 per year (before taxes, that is).

The conversation about making Higher Education an affordable option for today’s youth has not quieted down. Sara Goldrick-Rab – Professor of Higher Education Policy and Sociology at Temple University and author of Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream – proposed that the first step is making the issue a priority. Her plan, “first degree for free,” requires no new spending, just the reallocation of existing resources.

Is it too late to make college more affordable? What could be the consequences of drastically reducing tuition costs?

Lastly, if reducing the absurd cost of Higher Education is as simple as reallocating existing resources – then why haven’t we done this sooner?

Introduction | Meghan Keates

At a Glance:
  • The median household income in the U.S. is $56,516 per year. The average cost to attend a private college is      $32,410 per year
  • Sara Goldrick-Rab proposes a way to make college an affordable option in her book, Paying the Price: College      Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream
  • Eduardo Porter argues that nothing worth having is free
Around the Web:
This is How to Make Higher Education Affordable for Everyone

The Huffington Post

What are some things we can do to make college more affordable to everyone? Originally appeared on Quora – the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Sara Goldrick-Rab, professor of Higher Education Policy and Sociology at Temple University, author of Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream, on Quora.

In order to make college more affordable for everyone, we first have to make this issue a priority. Right now, it really isn’t one. Yes, there’s talk about how it matters, but people aren’t making it a primary voting issue. If you care about whether college is affordable, you can’t simply denigrate colleges for spending money or open a 529 account. You need to get up to speed on the problem and start electing people who will do something about it.

In Paying the Price, I propose a plan called “first degree for free.” This is a slightly recast version of another proposal I first made with Nancy Kendall in 2014. The premise is simple: fund public colleges and universities and hold them accountable for the allocation of those resources, such that the associate degree is delivered free of charge. That means no tuition, no charge for books and supplies, subsidized transportation, housing, and food options, and a work program for those who need the extra money. I focus on the associate degree because it’s the first major post-secondary degree of value, and so many people aren’t crossing the finish line to complete it. While the bachelor’s degree is even more valuable, those who get that far are relatively advantaged—so I think that just as we made elementary school free before high school, we should make the associate degree free (and get that accomplished) before we work on the bachelor’s degree.

To read more visit The Huffington Post

wads of cash
In defense of universal education

The Panther

At the University Program Board’s Q&A with Leslie Odom Jr., the “Hamilton” star told the mass of fawning students that college “is the place you should fall flat on your face.” This echo of the often-repeated sentiment about failure being a crucial ingredient in the recipe for success is important for college students to hear, especially now, because, at this time, failure isn’t affordable for us.

According to the College Board, the average published yearly tuition and fees for a public four-year college in the United States is $9,410 for in-state students, $23,890 for out-of-state students, and $32,410 for a four-year private college. That is the price tag on failure. This means that since the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis puts real median household income in the U.S. at $56,516 annually, it costs the average student at a school like Chapman more than half of their family’s annual household income to make a mistake. This is preposterous, and quite frankly, a national embarrassment.

In Germany, thousands of U.S. citizens study alongside German citizens for free. In Finland, which is widely considered to have the best education system in the world, students aren’t charged tuition. Students in Denmark don’t have to worry about affording college because it’s tuition-free there as well.

To read more visit The Panther

Nothing worth having is free

Robert M. Doroghazi | The Columbia Daily Tribune

This is in response to the Sept. 6 opinion piece titled “Time to recalculate: Higher education should be free,” by Eddie Adelstein.

In his wonderful book “The Price of Everything: Solving the Mystery of Why We Pay What We Do,” Eduardo Porter devotes an entire chapter to “The Price of Free.” He notes the “allure” of free. He also notes the results of “free”: It takes away incentive, and, surprisingly (or maybe not), “free” things often end up being the most expensive.

People value things in direct proportion to how much time and money they have invested. At one end is free advice: As the old saying goes, “It’s worth what you pay for it.” On the other end is the young woman who works 20 to 30 hours a week, drives a 15-year-old car that’s not even worth insuring, takes a baloney sandwich lunch in a brown bag, has never had a Starbucks super mocha hazelnut latte in her life and lives in her parents’ basement so she can afford the local community college. She is proud of her education because of how hard she worked to obtain it.

We are already painfully aware of what easy money has done to the cost of college. The Higher Education Act of 1965, part of LBJ’s Great Society, created the Guaranteed Student Loan Program, affording many minorities the opportunity for a higher education previously denied them. The intent was laudable, but there have been unintended consequences. Just as artificially low-interest rates fueled the housing bubble, so has cheap money fueled the student loan bubble.

To read more visit The Columbia Daily Tribune

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