‘New Normal’ in College Cost

Kids Count

There was a time not too long ago when it was possible to work your way through college with only minimal loans at the completion of your degree. I know this to be true because I was able to do this as were many of my contemporaries.

There were also many more state and federal financial supports than there are now in the way of grants. In addition to rising college costs, American median household income has declined to compound the difficulty in financing a college education. The convergence of these developments has contributed to a gathering financial storm that may soon begin to dampen the economic fires that have been lifting the national economy.

There seems to be little hope that there will be a reinvestment by states in higher education any time soon, instead, students and families will be expected to shoulder even more expense going forward.

This ‘new normal’ could also further imperil the economy as college graduates delay making major purchases such as new cars, homes or other major purchases as they begin to pay off college loans that in some instances are over $100,000 and climbing as interest piles up. In 2001, state and local per full time student support reached their zenith at $8,670.00.

Currently student support per full time student is $5,896.00. Colleges seem to be ignorant of these nationwide developments as tuition continues to increase at unsustainable rates. Over the last ten years community college expense has risen by 40 percent while tuition at a four year public college has increased by 68 percent. In that same decade, median household income fell by almost 10 percent as more Americans suffered under the recession or economic malaise.

Now, there are more Americans living in poverty than at any other time since accurate records have been maintained. According to some sources, the aggregate of all student loans is approaching one trillion dollars. The households with the lowest incomes are shouldering the most debt as families in the lowest income quintile at 24 percent are over twice that of any other income quintile. To compound the difficulty, many college graduates are unemployed or underemployed.

Reach the writer at Hurlburt@wildblue.net

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