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Neo

The cost of college...

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I saw this graphic today and was amazed at the numbers tossed around for higher education. It is no wonder that our community college system is bursting at the seams (and in places has already done so):

StudentLoansByTheNumbers3.jpg

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You know, that is pretty spot on. I just completed my second degree in 2.5 years (thank god for credits for my first one counting for half of this one) and it cost me about $70 grand at the private university I used. When you stack that on top of a house, vehicle loan, having kids (which aren't cheap), HEALTH CARE, among other things, you've spent that 800 grand they mention in no time.

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There is a HUGE, GLARING mistake there. One that, quite frankly, makes me very irate that they are presenting this as "public benefit" information when, in fact, it is really about commercial websites.

The very first thing that really stands out as intentionally misleading is that schools are raising tuition rates simply so they can make more money. Most colleges in the US are non profit. Any large discrepancy between tuitions and expenses are readily noticed. Some of the big name schools that command high tuition rates are acutely aware of this and put sometimes a little too much attention on balancing tuitions to expenses instead of increasing funding for needy programs. And there are very, very few colleges that are actually making any profit. Most of your more expensive schools are hurting, many have had to go through layoffs and program cuts.

Another key misleading statistic is that college tuition rates have increased a twice the rate of inflation. They are not telling you that college expenses are rising even faster. Most (if not all) colleges that have any kind of endowments have taken huge, huge hits this year. This is combined with declining donations, which is what really funds most expansion and large projects. On the other side, you have spiraling costs for energy, computing, and maintenance, more technological needs, and an insatiable demand for new high tech programs. Running a college is not cheap, expense are through the roof, and tuition and fees are not able to keep up.

As for financial aid, remember your college is usually pouring in quite a bit of their money into funding students to go to school. Yeah, it's a little insane an idea, which is why you usually find it at the truly non-profit schools. But most schools are not in it to make money, they are in it for the mission of teaching, whether that is respectable in today's capitalistic world or not.

Students should very, very carefully review any college finding they seek. They should establish realistic plans about how they are going to pay it off. And [rant]SHOULD THINK ABOUT THIS BEFORE THEY DECIDE TO SIGN UP FOR CLASSES THE DAY THEY START!!!![/rant]

I work for a community college, and you are right - we are bursting at the seams. We have grown something approaching 50% in the past few years. WE do offer, I think, an education that is quite respectable at a real value. But I also know that even those big name ivy league schools are still in it for a reason. As a society America has decided not to invest heavily in education. That has left our educational system to have to find it's own way to survive. Sometimes that means high costs for it's students. Your tuition and fees are buying those big name professors, buildings, and sports teams. And without the high fees and tuition, they are going to go away, real fast. IN a free market society you make choices about what you want to spend your money on. You can go for the value model, getting what you need and nothing more for a reasonable price, or you can spend more and get something flashier and more recognizable.

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