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Why Is Higher Education So Expensive In The U.S. ?


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#1 Shippou   Members   -  Reputation: 1528

Posted 31 July 2013 - 12:20 PM

The phrase "you need a good education to get anywhere in life" is a fact of life, especially in the US were the job market is horrible ( 12.1 applicants for every 1 job opining ).

 My specialized certifications have not been getting me much work in the last few years ( despite getting more of them ), so I decided to look into getting a bachelor degree ( 4 year ) in ether computer science, or electrical engineering.

 

 The costs of this blew me away !

 

The cheapest community college I could find, charges $24,000 per year ( not including books and supplies ), and the average cost of living in the area would run an additional $14,000 ( cheap student housing were the school is located ).

 That's $38,000 PER year.

 

 After chatting with the admissions office, and doing a lot independent research, I'm only eligible for $4,500 in government loans per year. ( I'm not qualified for "special interest" grants or loans ) .

 

 With that being said, no private institution ( bank, loan agency, e.t.c. ) is willing to give a student loan of  $152,000 - mainly due to my income of $18,000 - $31,000 a year .

 

 How am I ( or anyone else in the same situation ) to get a better education, when it it literally unaffordable ?!


Edited by Shippou, 31 July 2013 - 12:21 PM.

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#2 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 7409

Posted 31 July 2013 - 01:49 PM

Well, first, that shouldn't be the cheapest community college you can find. That's pretty comparable to the local state university today, with a top-10 Computer science program. Granted I started college 10 years ago now, but the figure you came up with is more than what I spent on (3 years) at a private and very specialized school.

 

I agree in general that higher ed is ridiculously expensive, and its been increasing steadily for awhile. I wish I knew why that was, specifically, but your guess is as good as mine. My theory is that higher-ed is among one of the first places to show the result of inflation, because the "production costs" at all levels and thin margins give administrators no place to hide it.

 

Frankly, the entire education system is out of whack in the states. It used to be that if you weren't "college bound" you could at least leave high-school with a reasonable trade to provide a living wage. We don't do that anymore because we spend all our time training children to pass the standardized tests -- hence, everyone needs to go on to some form of higher education, even if they only want to pursue a trade -- if you don't, you get a service-industry McJob, or no job at all.

 

With the supply of potential students at an all-time high already and perpetuated by the correct observation that no-degree means fewer career prospects, the market for higher-education will bare a much-inflated price, and that unfortunately disqualifies those who cannot afford to keep up with the Jones'.

 

Its crap. Its depressing. And I have no idea what to do about it.


Edited by Ravyne, 31 July 2013 - 01:51 PM.


#3 IcedCrow   Members   -  Reputation: 264

Posted 31 July 2013 - 01:59 PM

Its a business designed to take advantage of you and keep you perpetually in debt.  

 

The economy is horrible.  A college degree now gets you what a high school diploma got you in the 90s.  

 

Getting a degree doesn't mean anything either, as the market is shrinking but the job applicants are growing.

 

This means that relying on others to create jobs for you is not always an option, and one needs to start being creative and inventive.  Or fill out applications to work in retail or mcdonalds.  

 

That being said, our community college here is where many go to get their general credits out of the way first.

 

I joined the army and served for a while and they paid for my college in return.  I was not about to saddle myself with that much debt like many of my friends did.  


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#4 Prinz Eugn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3622

Posted 31 July 2013 - 02:35 PM

You can't go to a local community school while you work (take night classes)? That seems to be pretty standard here for my co-workers who don't already have a degree.

 

Were you looking at all apartments around the area or just designated student housing? At my school, student housing was always exorbitant, with cheap apartments located not too far away from campus. Have you looked at scholarships instead of loans? EE should have some pretty sweet ones available. Also, did you see what loans you could get if you quit working and were a full time student? That should change the math for loan availability.

 

Like Ravyne was getting at, have you looked at cheap state schools instead of just community colleges? I went to NMSU and we were almost legendarily cheap.


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#5 Promit   Moderators   -  Reputation: 7196

Posted 31 July 2013 - 02:57 PM

There's a very long history about WHY American universities are so expensive. It's a myriad of reasons and forces that have driven costs up by several thousand percentage points over the last sixty years or so, after you account for inflation. While that's all very interesting history, it isn't very helpful. In America, money speaks loudest of all and that's that. 

 

You should be able to go to a state university for a bachelor's degree for a cost of around $12,000/year in tuition, depending on what state you live in -- which my crystal ball tells me is PA and puts you in the Penn State system. Looks like tuition charges range from 12 to 16 thousand depending on which campus you choose. Cost of living is on you, so let's simply take your fairly reasonable $14k figure and say you're around $30k/year at the main campus. From your income, you'll be expected to contribute some amount of tuition, and depending on your age your parents' incomes may also be factored into the calculation. For loans, you're probably expected to have a cosigner who would typically be a parent.

 

Consider that tuition payments are also a total tax write-off. You'll be able to contribute pretty much your entire income pre-tax to the school, which will give you more flexibility in funding your education than you would normally have. The schools often have internal programs to offer aid, separate from the largely worthless federal programs. If you're able to put in$10k a year from your own pocket, and the govt loan is another $5k or so, that's covering about half. The remaining loan of 15k/year might be attainable even without a cosigner, depending on how your credit rating looks. If you finish in four years, you'll graduate with $60k in debt and a nice degree in CS or EE, which is probably something you'll afford to clear in 5 years or so.


Edited by Promit, 31 July 2013 - 02:58 PM.


#6 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 21335

Posted 31 July 2013 - 03:02 PM

Cost depends on the school.

 

I just looked up three of the local schools (we have 12 nationally-accredited universities within a one hour drive).

 

The cheapest is a community college that also offers several BS degrees, at $1671 per semester for full time 12-18 credit hours.  Another university is $2496 for 12-18 credit hours.  The third was $2305 per full-time semester.

 

 

 

These are very inexpensive, under $8K per year compared to the $38K per year mentioned originally.


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#7 Shippou   Members   -  Reputation: 1528

Posted 31 July 2013 - 03:10 PM

Cost depends on the school.

 

I just looked up three of the local schools (we have 12 nationally-accredited universities within a one hour drive).

 

The cheapest is a community college that also offers several BS degrees, at $1671 per semester for full time 12-18 credit hours.  Another university is $2496 for 12-18 credit hours.  The third was $2305 per full-time semester.

 

 

 

These are very inexpensive, under $8K per year compared to the $38K per year mentioned originally.

What *programs* were the costs quoted for ? Are they for subsidized students ? Is that the price after scholarship ?

 I have never seen computer science / electrical engineering that cheap.

 

 I stated $24,000 for tuition, and $14,000 for "cost of living" for the area the school was located in - as far as Penn State  ( your IP look up should have nailed me as being in Ohio ), they require 2 years undergraduate study THAN 4 years normal course work @ $31,000 per year tuition ( got to pay off those lawsuits some how ) . LINK


 

 

@Promit - how can I afford $10,000 a year, when I grossed $21,800 last year, and this year doesn't look any better ?

As I stated before, I am ineligible for student loans - I already tried MANY places. ( My credit rating is about as good as you expect for some one with many outstanding medical bills )

 

Edited by Shippou, 31 July 2013 - 03:35 PM.

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#8 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 21335

Posted 31 July 2013 - 04:01 PM

 

Cost depends on the school.
 
I just looked up three of the local schools .... The cheapest is a community college that also offers several BS degrees, at $1671 per semester for full time 12-18 credit hours.  Another university is $2496 for 12-18 credit hours.  The third was $2305 per full-time semester.

What *programs* were the costs quoted for ? Are they for subsidized students ? Is that the price after scholarship ?
 I have never seen computer science / electrical engineering that cheap.
 
 I stated $24,000 for tuition, and $14,000 for "cost of living" for the area the school was located in - as far as Penn State  ( your IP look up should have nailed me as being in Ohio ), they require 2 years undergraduate study THAN 4 years normal course work @ $31,000 per year tuition ( got to pay off those lawsuits some how )

 

 
I was referring to my area, Salt Lake City.
 
Salt Lake Community College - $1671 for full time (they only offer up to associates degree in computer science).
University of Utah - $2706 for 12 credit hours
Utah State University - $3092 for full time
Weber State University - $2495 for full time
Utah Valley University - $2543 for full time
 
There are other local schools, all with similar rates for in-state or resident tuition.

 

 

As for getting a job, the Salt Lake area is one of the best nationally for unemployment, we didn't get hit hard by the recession. Google says we are at 4.1% unemployment, and there are many tech jobs open all over the place. Cost of living is relatively low, and if you plan your move carefully you can move to Provo so you can get Google Fiber or other suburbs that offer fiber-to-the-home.  As a college student in the '90s I was able to find a $50K/year programming job.  It was hard to work full time while also attending school, but it something that can be done.

 

 

Just because a few states have very high tuition and poor job prospects does not mean it is the same across the country.  Consider moving.


Edited by frob, 31 July 2013 - 04:11 PM.

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#9 Prinz Eugn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3622

Posted 31 July 2013 - 04:13 PM


I stated $24,000 for tuition, and $14,000 for "cost of living" for the area the school was located in - as far as Penn State  ( your IP look up should have nailed me as being in Ohio ), they require 2 years undergraduate study THAN 4 years normal course work @ $31,000 per year tuition ( got to pay off those lawsuits some how ) . LINK

 

Your link refers to the graduate school... have you looked at the official Penn State website?


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#10 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 7409

Posted 31 July 2013 - 04:16 PM


Consider that tuition payments are also a total tax write-off.

 

Yes and no -- tuition *interest* I believe is a write off, but not the principle. And depending on what you earn after you graduate, high-earners may not qualify for the write-off. The rules may be different between private and government-subsidized loan types. I'm unable to write off any of my interest because I earn too much and file single. If I were married to someone who is not also a "high earner" by IRS standards, or had a boatload of kids, I'd probably be able to write it off though. ...I know, I know, first world problems.



#11 Mike.Popoloski   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2911

Posted 31 July 2013 - 04:26 PM

Alternatively, go back in time, do really well in high school, and then go to any school for free! (or nearly free).  biggrin.png


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#12 Promit   Moderators   -  Reputation: 7196

Posted 31 July 2013 - 04:28 PM

 


Consider that tuition payments are also a total tax write-off.

 

Yes and no -- tuition *interest* I believe is a write off, but not the principle. And depending on what you earn after you graduate, high-earners may not qualify for the write-off. The rules may be different between private and government-subsidized loan types. I'm unable to write off any of my interest because I earn too much and file single. If I were married to someone who is not also a "high earner" by IRS standards, or had a boatload of kids, I'd probably be able to write it off though. ...I know, I know, first world problems.

 

That is for tuition loan payments. I'm referring to direct out of pocket payments to the school at time of billing. And yes, that creates a significant tax advantage for those who can afford to pay tuition direct.


Edited by Promit, 31 July 2013 - 04:28 PM.


#13 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 21335

Posted 31 July 2013 - 04:35 PM

 

 


Consider that tuition payments are also a total tax write-off.

 

Yes and no -- tuition *interest* I believe is a write off, but not the principle. And depending on what you earn after you graduate, high-earners may not qualify for the write-off. The rules may be different between private and government-subsidized loan types. I'm unable to write off any of my interest because I earn too much and file single. If I were married to someone who is not also a "high earner" by IRS standards, or had a boatload of kids, I'd probably be able to write it off though. ...I know, I know, first world problems.

 

That is for tuition loan payments. I'm referring to direct out of pocket payments to the school at time of billing. And yes, that creates a significant tax advantage for those who can afford to pay tuition direct.

 

 

It is called the Lifetime Learning tax credit.  It applies to everybody not just those who pay out-of-pocket.  It is a non-refundable tax credit that maxes out at $2000 over the taxpayer's lifetime.

 

That is in addition to the deduction you can take against any student loan interest.


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#14 tstrimple   Prime Members   -  Reputation: 1718

Posted 31 July 2013 - 04:40 PM

I was referring to my area, Salt Lake City.

 
Salt Lake Community College - $1671 for full time (they only offer up to associates degree in computer science).
University of Utah - $2706 for 12 credit hours
Utah State University - $3092 for full time
Weber State University - $2495 for full time
Utah Valley University - $2543 for full time
 
There are other local schools, all with similar rates for in-state or resident tuition.

 

 

As for getting a job, the Salt Lake area is one of the best nationally for unemployment, we didn't get hit hard by the recession. Google says we are at 4.1% unemployment, and there are many tech jobs open all over the place. Cost of living is relatively low, and if you plan your move carefully you can move to Provo so you can get Google Fiber or other suburbs that offer fiber-to-the-home.  As a college student in the '90s I was able to find a $50K/year programming job.  It was hard to work full time while also attending school, but it something that can be done.

 

The only problem is it's Utah! Kidding aside, there are a lot of opportunities in smaller urban areas. There are great developer communities in places like Phoenix, Denver, Austin, and Salt Lake City. To be fair, there are a lot of developer opportunities pretty much everywhere right now, and the tech industry unemployment rate is significantly lower than the general unemployment rate.



#15 Dwarf King   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1856

Posted 31 July 2013 - 04:44 PM


We don't do that anymore because we spend all our time training children to pass the standardized tests -- hence, everyone needs to go on to some form of higher education, even if they only want to pursue a trade -- if you don't, you get a service-industry McJob, or no job at all.

 

Ehhh even people with university degrees are working in the service sector now? A university degree is sadly no longer a guarantee for getting a good job with a high salary. Even in Europe this is the case. We have people with engineer degrees working as dish washers and cab drivers now at days. I can even speak from experience when I say that I have met people with ph.d titles working in restaurants.

 

University degrees are now just a high school diploma and what firms want are that and special skills. All the statistics in the world won't change the fact that many people sits back with high student loans and no jobs or low paid jobs after graduation. That is real live in these times.

 

So why are higher education so expensive? Well it should not be that expensive as many will not benefit from their degrees in these times.


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#16 JohnnyCode   Members   -  Reputation: 219

Posted 31 July 2013 - 04:54 PM

Maybe you should consider an option of studying abroad. MF faculty at Carl's University in Prague is too heavy to get through, but there are plenty of others, in czech, germany or slovakia, and I am sure some of them would have english applied, though it tends to be rare on technology faculties unluckily. 



#17 Shippou   Members   -  Reputation: 1528

Posted 31 July 2013 - 04:54 PM

Alternatively, go back in time, do really well in high school, and then go to any school for free! (or nearly free).  biggrin.png

All I have to do is go back in time to 1994, and kick my 9th grade self in the @$$ .


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3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

- Douglas Adams 2002


 


#18 TheChubu   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4354

Posted 31 July 2013 - 05:19 PM

There's a very long history about WHY American universities are so expensive.

Also known as neo liberalism.


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#19 j-locke   Members   -  Reputation: 816

Posted 31 July 2013 - 06:38 PM

Penn State is a public university, not a community college. As was mentioned once earlier in the thread, it's not uncommon for people to get the first 2 years of general studies credits out of the way at a community college, which is typically drastically cheaper than a university. You just want to make sure that your credits will transfer to the university that you intend to go to. Communicating your intent to both the administration at the community college and your desired university will help in making sure that is as painless a process as possible.
 
 
 

Alternatively, go back in time, do really well in high school, and then go to any school for free! (or nearly free). biggrin.png

All I have to do is go back in time to 1994, and kick my 9th grade self in the @$$ .

 
Man, if you could only time travel once and it was for only long enough to give yourself a kick in the pants... we would accomplish some great things!

Edited by j-locke, 31 July 2013 - 06:39 PM.


#20 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 7409

Posted 31 July 2013 - 06:47 PM


Man, if you could only time travel once and it was for only long enough to give yourself a kick in the pants... we would accomplish some great things!

 

Or not -- I'd probably just go back in time and tell myself to mine bitcoins, then take preemptive retirement biggrin.png






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