The Cost of College
The average cost of a four-year bachelor’s degree in America is $9000 per year and that figure pales into insignificance when compared with the two year private colleges who charge in excess of $35,000 per year. These high costs have one obvious effect which is that the majority of students attending college will come from middle or higher class families. Like anything, if you raise the cost then its exclusivity increases and reduces the likelihood of it being accessible to poorer families. According to a study assessing the various factors that go into choosing a college, the three consistently relevant factors are: the student’s ability, the cost of the college, their parent’s socioeconomic status. The reality is that by making college as expensive as it is, the third factor will often be the most prevalent.
As a result of college costs being so high, there are financial aids in place to help ease the expense of college for students and their parents. A study showed that in Georgia, for every $1000 of financial support spent, it increased the attendance rate from 3.7% to 4.2%. So the effects of expensive college educations are limited slightly but another effect occurs: the cost to the average taxpayer. If the government are helping to fund these educations, then in turn taxes must rise slightly in order to allow for this extra cost. Another study suggests that the rate of returning to college for low-income family students is quite high, when given adequate support which is therefore evidence which supports financial aid, but still fails to analyse the cost to the taxpayer. According to one book, assessing the impact of such student aid programs and the varying college prices can help to “explain the growth in access for White and upper and middle class students” while also the same data can help to explain the decrease in students from low-income families due to “decline in grants.”
However, clearly parents still place a lot of value on a college education for their children because despite recent stunted economic growth, the enrolment numbers continue to grow steadily: “With high unemployment numbers and jobs scarce, college enrolment is the highest it has been in recent years.” This interesting effect is clearly due to the panic concerning the lack of available jobs to people without degrees or skill sets. The same article states that enrolment is up across the country as a result of the poor economy and suggests that workers are hoping that higher education will secure them some form of employment in this current fragile job market. So while the cost of college can deter people from poorer backgrounds from attending, the higher cost of unemployment is helping to attract new students too.
The economy is something which concerns most people nowadays. The recession has hit the majority of people with force and we are all watching our pennies. However, the cost of college continues to rise and whilst there is financial aid and even scholarships available, the expenditure that a family will endure to put a child through education will always be a factor in terms of the demographic enrolling as well as the overall numbers in attendance. Money will always be the cause of a lot of problems in terms of college attendance and the effects will continue to be the cost to the taxpayer, the decline in low-income family students and the continued attendance of richer family students.
Long, B. B. T. “How Have College Decisions Changed Over Time? An Application of the Conditional Logistic Model.” Journal of Econometrics 121.1-2: 271-296. Ebsco. February 19 2011.
Dynarski, Susan M. “Hope For Whom? Financial Aid For The Middle Class and Its Impact On College Attendance.” NBER Working Paper Series w7756. Lexis Nexis. February 19 2011.
Keane, Michael P. “Financial Aid, Borrowing Constraints, and College Attendance: Evidence From Structural Estimates.” The American Economic Review 92.2: 293-297. Ebsco. February 19 2011.