Over the last 35 years or so, the cost of attending college, specifically in the United States, has skyrocketed. What once costed less than $1000 per year may now run a student tens of thousands of dollars per year. Multiple factors have played into this dramatic increase in the cost of attendance. One of these factors is the disproportionate rise in the attendance of college when compared to the state legislative appropriations for higher education. Though the total appropriations to higher education when adjusted for inflation are more than 10 times those of the 1960s, college enrollment has increased by roughly 50% since 1995. As federal student aid has increased in order to combat costly higher education, the tuition has proportionally increased as well, which effectively defeats the purpose of increasing federal student aid. In addition, a college degree has practically come to be perceived a necessity in the current job place, which effectively enables colleges to charge any price no matter how high. The majority of universities also see student attendance as an inevitability, and therefore they focus on the needs of professors and investors by keeping student tuition prices high. Another contributing factor to increased college tuition occurs as colleges spend more and more on student acquisition, because they then proportionally increase tuition, which is explained in depth in an article titled Why is College so Expensive?.
There are three main solutions which could drastically decrease the cost of college in the United States. These solutions, which are detailed in a Washington Post article titled Three Ways to Fix College Tuition Pricing, include publishing tuition information by family bracket and academic program, releasing a four-year tuition figure, and building a new pricing model for the 21st century. Perhaps the most impactful of these solutions would be to build a new pricing model for the 21st century, which would completely uproot the current ineffective system. The current model for tuition discounting was created in the 1970s during a period when families could afford the out of pocket costs of sending their children to college. An interesting statistic presented by the article is that today 20% of families pay 100% or more of their annual income to cover the net price of college, opposed to only 10% paying 100% or more of their annual income in 1996. This drastic change in the economy, when relayed back to how much families can actually afford to pay for college, does not support the model brought about in the 1970s. Therefore, there is a dire need for a completely new college pricing model which is applicable to the 21st century US economy.
The average middle class family in the US can no longer afford the continually rising costs that come with their children attending college. There are solutions, but they will require a complete system overhaul of the current college pricing model.