Colleges in the United States charge tuition, the cost per credit hour that for each class being taken. There may be additional fees besides Tuition that are charged for specific things. Tuition does not cover supplies, lab fees, housing and board, or even parking. These fees have climbed at dramatic rates over the course of the last seventy years. This is because the United States Federal Government only directly supports military academies, making other institutions of higher education private entities that change what they believe people will pay. In spite the tuition increases, the desirability of the top universities in the world that exist in the United States indicates this trend will continue.
The United States Federal Government does have a program of loans and grants that date back to the United States Civil War. This program was first instituted with the Morrill Act, which created “land grant” colleges that were to teach agriculture, engineering, and military tactics. At the end of World War II, a G.I. Bill program was started. Officially called the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944, this bill helped veterans return to school or draw unemployment while they looked for work.
It should be noted that this series of government aid programs have enabled colleges to continue to raise tuition fees where other countries with national government direct support tend to have more static rates although suffer from other issues. One easy comparison of rates on this factor is to look at the tuition rates for Canadian colleges and those of United States colleges. While both university systems show increases, one can easily see that the rates for Canadian colleges are consistent with inflation rates over the course of sixty years between 1940 and 2000. The examples provided are typical. Canadian colleges show a thirty percent increase over the 60 years. United States public colleges and PC Pro Schools typically have increased tuition rates by two hundred and thirty percent while private colleges and universities have increased theirs by three hundred and sixty percent over the same time span. Public colleges are often paid for in part by the state government and thus are less likely to increase fees without there being an economic reason to.
The alarming fact is that except in rare cases like with PC Pro Schools, college tuition has climbed in expense faster than even medical charges. In the last thirty years alone, there has been a shocking increase on this level. The numbers show it clearly. At 2.5-fold increase shown in the CPI-U, you can see how the expected inflation rate for cost of living sets. If you look at medical expenses alone as part of the Consumer Price index, you will note that it as a six-fold increase. While this is shocking in its own right, it pales when compared to the college tuition rates, which have increased ten-fold over the last thirty years according the College Board data. This disproportional inflation is even more alarming when one considers that the grants and loans being made to cover this cost are paid for in part by the taxpayer.
One must wonder how long such a trend can last before it becomes plain that the concept of “accessible to everyone” for higher education is replaced with “only those who can afford it”. Indeed, can the public itself continue to support such hikes for tuition fees? To this, I have no answer, but it certainly is food for thought. When major countries across the globe struggle with the same issue, even under the pressure for more people to become educated in such a fashion and in fact having a college degree is nearly required in many fields in order to even get a foot in the door.
It is considered standard now to expect college tuition in the United States to climb each year at twice the rate of inflation. Compared with Canada, it is very clear that this need not be happening, as the rates there have matched inflation and cost of living increases. Higher education has been and remains one of the factors that leads inflation in the United States. The increased tuition rates has led to climbing levels of student loan debts, to the average of twenty thousand dollars per student.
One needs to moderate the alarm at these costs and the expenses however, in light of the fact that most students who invest in a bachelor’s level education typically earn nearly forty percent more than those who do not. This trend may well continue as time goes on.