Its everywhere in the news these days: prices are going up. With food and oil, the increases may come as a shock. However, in college education, price increases out-pacing official inflation calculations have been the norm for many years.
The Consumer Law and Policy blog asks: “How High can Tuition Go?”
Unfortunately, my response is: “A lot higher.” The popular political proposals might shift the burden around for a while, but it also has the unfortunate inflationary effect of adding more money to a system without necessarily adding more of the resources that money is chasing (professors, dorm rooms, textbooks, etc…)
But wait: Maybe not if the government gets involved. Poligazette has a write-up of the presidential candidates on education:
Obama has plenty of ways to bring new money into colleges, perhaps enough to keep the constant rise in tuition costs for a few more years by shifting the financial burden to taxpayers. Of course, government spending plays a large role in the current inflationary climate to begin with, so some of this extra spending could also have a part in adding a little bit more to fuel and food costs.
McCain’s plan doesn’t even really address higher education, so there’s no real reason to expect any solutions beyond periodic increases in federal student aid for the purpose of nudging students into the increasingly expensive programs.
Tuition prices probably won’t drop until after enrollment drops, and we have a political system in place that favors spending. Politicians don’t want to be blamed for the loss of college enrollment, and they’ll be glad to open up our wallets to make sure it doesn’t happen on their watch.
Of course, if our politicians don’t act soon to make tuition more expensive, the Chinese might. Chinese citizens are increasingly able to get state permission to travel to the United States and the 17% annual increase of visitors includes students looking for college enrollment. While it is only a small portion of the total Chinese population that can afford U.S. college tuition rates, that small percentage still accounts for millions of potential students.
For parents and college-bound kids, perhaps the only solution is to buckle down: save up, apply for more grants and scholarships, and find ways to cut non-essential costs.