Why is Education so Expensive?

When I was going to college, everything cost what felt like an arm and a leg. Textbooks were one of the larger burdons students didn’t always see coming as the semester grew closer. In some cases, these books made up a larger amount of your initial investment than housing (for the first month of the semester). Things haven’t really changed since then, except that tuition fees, books, and housing all come with a higher price tag.

According to College Board, books can make up over $1,000 of your yearly college investment. Tuition at two-year public schools clock in at around $2,400 per year with private four-year institutions charging tuition and fees scaling up to over $25,000 in one year alone. This means that if you don’t have an impressive scholarship or some other form of serious financial backing, you’re likely to get stuck with an oppressive amount of debt from student loans.

If you decide to take on student loans, you’re likely going to have to pay them off over the course of your career. Some students opt to join military or volunteer organizations that promise to assist with paying off student loans in exchange for service. If you decide to dive in to your career of choice, you may find the financial advantage of the diploma won’t come in handy until years down the line when you’ve eliminated the debt caused by getting the degree in the first place.

Education is an absolute must for any society to further itself technologically or academically. For too many students the focus of the best years of their lives is spent wondering how they’re going to pay for their education, and not how they’re going to benefit from it in the long-term. As much of an importance as we place on education as a society, we seem to do little to prevent it from being out of reach for so many of our young citizens.

We have the technology, and many schools are beginning to offer online courses that reduce the overhead of the campus and allow good professors the ability to teach important lessons to a larger audience in a way we never could when I attended, or anyone from generations prior. Instead of reducing the costs for their students as a result, universities seem to be pressing even harder and asking for more from a student body that rarely has anything left to give.

Here is some response to this post by the community on Google+:

Craig Clawson – My brother had to purchase a virology textbook that cost $978 dollars. that is just greed, pure and simple.

Erin Fox – It’s expensive because it’s meant to be exclusive. As my Philosophy professor said, “We can’t educate everybody. Who would clean toilets?”

Shane Corning – I began at a University after High School. Scholarship, the whole nine. Guess what? They didn’t have any practical classes, and some of the Profs were barely qualified to teach a H.S. class. So I went to Community College and actually learned skills I could use in jobs.

12 thoughts on “Why is Education so Expensive?”

  1. In that case, the taxes we pay in Denmark seems like a small price for a payed university degree :)

  2. Heard that education is way expensive in the USA. In my country it’s still expensive, but far from what you pay in the US. We get support from the Government, though. Everyone who goes to college and it above the age of 18 gets money every month. How much is depending of some factors, mostly if you live in a Dorm or not.
    Hopefully college will get cheaper over there! Everyone deserves a fair change and not only the rich.

  3. Heard that education is way expensive in the USA. In my country it’s still expensive, but far from what you pay in the US. We get support from the Government, though. Everyone who goes to college and it above the age of 18 gets money every month. How much is depending of some factors, mostly if you live in a Dorm or not.
    Hopefully college will get cheaper over there! Everyone deserves a fair change and not only the rich.

  4. In Norway the government give loans with great conditions to everyone who wants to take a degree of any kind. When you’re finished half the loan is turned into a scholarship.
    Most unis and colleges are owned by the government and are therefore free. If you want to go to a private college/school/uni you are granted a bigger loan, and by that a bigger scholarship so you’re able to pay for the education. If the school is really expensive you have to pay some yourself.
    This works for those who want to study abroad as well.

    I’m so happy that I live in Norway.

  5. I graduated from the University of Memphis in 1979. My tuition for my 1st Freshman semester (1974) was $283 for 12 hours, which was full time. I earned enough working at my neighborhood grocery to pay my tuition and expenses. Books were expensive then as well, but not like today. Today you need some kind of help, like employer paid education.

  6. It’s worse off here (in Nigeria): They teach you stuff you really don’t need in the real world. Our Education has failed to close up and capture the essence of the modern day system, thus inject redundant knowledge into a society that’s dying of the need for need ideologies…

    And they still expect you to pay high amounts while plotting their next “Labor action” excuse…. :(

  7. FYI . . . The reason student loans are so easy to get is because they are backed by the U.S. Government and you cannot discharge a student loan if you ever declared bankruptcy.  Therefore, the banks and Universities have absolutely nothing to lose in lending you money for tuition (and they really could give a shit whether you graduate or not) because Uncle Sam (i.e. the American tax payer, i.e. you and me) will pay the banks back plus interest.  The banks and schools make a profit and we are all slaving away to pay these loans back.  Don’t you love Capitalism !

  8. I totally disagree that college is an “absolute must” to advance our society.  I have met countless people who came out of WW II and the generation who followed, who had absolutely no more than high school education that have become successful in their own right.  Look how America advanced by people who took upon themselves to be inventors/innovators/business moguls.  Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are college dropouts who became vastly successful because they step outside the conventional box.  Today, I think we rely too much on computers and Google where answers can pop up quickly without truly learning the concept in depth.    

    I don’t think higher education is for everyone.  America still need electricians, plumbers, auto mechanics, or any other job that involves on the job training, because if we tell our kids to go to college and earn that degree, it still going to cost us an arm and a leg to find service people to fix/build our houses/roads/etc.  This day in age, we need decent and moral people to provide basic services.  
    Suppose you’re 18 years old and a high school graduate.  You take a job as electrician or plumber.  You will be so far ahead in money earned/saved by the time most college kids (4-5 years). Plus, you won’t have any school loans to pay back either. 

    Thanks my 2 cents,

  9. The availability of student loans is also a big part of tuition inflation.  As with the housing market, prices skyrocketed due to the low lending standards on the part of teh Banks.

  10. The availability of student loans is also a big part of tuition inflation.  As with the housing market, prices skyrocketed due to the low lending standards on the part of teh Banks.

  11. Your comment doesn’t make sense. You seem to be upset with capitalism, but the reasons you mention are not flaws of capitalism, but flaws of big government/uncle sam. Government mismanagement is a big problem in the United States and as with many other sectors, the government has done more harm than good.

  12. All I know is that there are more chances of getting a job if you stick with a flexible Associates Degree. So I’m sticking to my Community College and going to change my major to Computers. Even my granddad is going to help pay for it so now I can actually focus on my studies and not worry so much, and I’m also on the Dean’s list so I could get a good scholarship (3.57 GPA). Maybe if we were in a better economy I would consider University, but not anymore; it’s unrealistic.

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