Tuesday, August 17, 2010

College cost hurts graduates' economy

College is ridiculously expensive. In my four years at a major state university, tuition increased in the double digits each year, and for the few years since. Then, of course, the economy is hurting state-funded institutions because state funding is limited. And private schools aren’t doing any better – they have to deal with people no longer affording their higher tuition. Thus, tuition continues to rise.

Unfortunately, these ever-rising rates end up hurting the economy: Both the students who come out of school with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, many of whom can not find a decent job right now, and the parents, who are putting all their entire retirement savings into their child’s education.

Today, the U.S. News and World Report’s annual college rankings came out, and with it, the newest list of the “Great Schools, Great Prices.” I applaud all the schools who made it on the list. Somehow, they’ve figured out how to offer students all the need out of a university or college education and experience, without leaving students and parents on food stamps.

Also on the report is a list of “Least Debt,” meaning schools whose students graduate with the least amount of debt. Another honorable focus for American universities and colleges. All prospective students should consider these lists when applying for higher education. The colleges on the list have made their focus the student -- not just during their four years at the university but for post-graduate life. Seems they’ve rediscovered the American dream.

More colleges should put their emphasis on assisting students financially. Whether is means a “work study” or bartering system where students work so many hours a week on campus for reduced tuition, fees and living expenses, or it means keeping costs low, even if that means little or no raises on the faculty and staff or cutting a program or two.

As more young people enter the weak work force with massive piles of debt, I wonder why you don’t hear more outcry, more requests for action. And I say this while writing a student loan check for a sum that never seems to reduce…

Find U.S. News rankings at http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges.

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