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RLS0812

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

40 posts in this topic

A full college education at a university today is about $100,000. The people saying it's not that expensive!!!! are in-state residents that are getting 2/3rd of their education paid for by the government. If you attend a private university, are an out-of-state resident, or a foreign national then you pay full price.


Wat? A lot of state schools are great. I'm sure a lot of people who say commuter cars aren't the expensive aren't buying Ferrari's either.
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That said, tuition costs vary radically from school to school, and program to program within the school (especially if you aren't going to be living on campus in student housing). Make sure you are looking at schools with respectable degree programs in the field of your interest, and then comparison shop.
Make sure your comparison shopping includes out-of state schools.

 

In states with expensive state schools (Pennsylvania is one of those states) be sure to look out of state as well.

 

The out-of-state tuition at some schools can still be much cheaper than the in-state tuition of the expensive locations.

 

 

Simple example from the links earlier:

 

Out-of-state tuition+fees for USU: $9436 for full time.  Or x3 = $28308 per year. That is still $10K less per year than the OP's stated costs, or $40K total cost difference over four years.

 

Out-of-state tuition+fees for WSU: $6655 for full time.  Or x3 = $19965 per year.  That is $20K less per year than the OP's stated costs, or $80K total cost difference over four years.

 

 

Repeat this for many other metro areas around the country.  Move to a cheaper location for a few years, the education is still valid.

 

There is no need to go a tithe-of-a-million dollars in debt for education.  If you happen to live in a city that only offers expensive education options, move away for a few years.

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That said, tuition costs vary radically from school to school, and program to program within the school (especially if you aren't going to be living on campus in student housing). Make sure you are looking at schools with respectable degree programs in the field of your interest, and then comparison shop.
Make sure your comparison shopping includes out-of state schools.

 

In states with expensive state schools (Pennsylvania is one of those states) be sure to look out of state as well.

 

The out-of-state tuition at some schools can still be much cheaper than the in-state tuition of the expensive locations.

 

 

Simple example from the links earlier:

 

Out-of-state tuition+fees for USU: $9436 for full time.  Or x3 = $28308 per year. That is still $10K less per year than the OP's stated costs, or $40K total cost difference over four years.

 

Out-of-state tuition+fees for WSU: $6655 for full time.  Or x3 = $19965 per year.  That is $20K less per year than the OP's stated costs, or $80K total cost difference over four years.

 

 

Repeat this for many other metro areas around the country.  Move to a cheaper location for a few years, the education is still valid.

 

There is no need to go a tithe-of-a-million dollars in debt for education.  If you happen to live in a city that only offers expensive education options, move away for a few years.

 

 

Also worth noting is that some states will allow in-state tuition for neighboring states, so it's worth being aware of.

 

You can also consider moving to the state you plan to go to school and making yourself financially independent from your parents. That's non-trivial, but the option could potentially save you/your family tens of thousands of dollars. It might be worth taking on extra debt and supporting yourself or getting financial help from your family after university. Like I said it's difficult, but it's an option worth weighing.

 

The university I attended currently has a tuition of ~$9,000 for 2 semesters of 15 credits, which is what most students opt for in a year.

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Just a heads up - I haven't lived at home since the age of 16 - currently 33 .

 

 As of right now, still no way to get a student loan due to bad credit score ( medical bills ) and low yearly income.

Edited by Shippou
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After reading your comments I'm really happy I live in a country (Germany) where higher education is paid by the state. Our students went onto the streets when they introduced comparable low 500€(max) per semester, so they abandoned it again biggrin.png. Of course there are still private schools/universities for the people who got too much money.

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In the UK we have tuition fees of upto £9000 per year.   However in Scotland anybody from any EU country (except England) can study for free.

Just wondering.  Nobody actually seems to have answered the OPs question as to why American tuition fees are so highgh.  There has been a couple of nudge nudge "We Allll know why they are so high".  But for those of us from outside the US can you elaborate.

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if people moaned on about the right to a decent education rather than the right to bare arms the price might come down a tad...

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In the UK we have tuition fees of upto £9000 per year.   However in Scotland anybody from any EU country (except England) can study for free.

Just wondering.  Nobody actually seems to have answered the OPs question as to why American tuition fees are so highgh.  There has been a couple of nudge nudge "We Allll know why they are so high".  But for those of us from outside the US can you elaborate.

 

Honestly a big part of the problem is that so many people want to and do go to expensive schools. There are a lot of good affordable schools, but nobody wants to go to the University of Northern Iowa or the University of South Dakota or go to a community college for a year before transferring to a better university.

 

I think a big part of it is that high school students generally have no concept of whether the amount of debt they're taking on will be worth it, so they end up going to schools they just cannot afford before they realize they cannot and will not be able to afford it. It doesn't help that our loan system doesn't take into account your expected graduating major, so you get a lot of students going into majors that won't make any significant income going to hugely expensive schools and none of the bankers are telling them they can't afford the loan. I think if we allowed students to discharge their loan debt through bankruptcy somehow it would have a big impact on how readily the US distributes loans. It would need some tweaking so that every student in the world doesn't declare bankruptcy the day they graduate, but something needs to slow down the amount of credit being granted that will never be paid back.

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In the UK we have tuition fees of upto £9000 per year.   However in Scotland anybody from any EU country (except England) can study for free.

Just wondering.  Nobody actually seems to have answered the OPs question as to why American tuition fees are so highgh.  There has been a couple of nudge nudge "We Allll know why they are so high".  But for those of us from outside the US can you elaborate.

 

Honestly a big part of the problem is that so many people want to and do go to expensive schools. There are a lot of good affordable schools, but nobody wants to go to the University of Northern Iowa or the University of South Dakota or go to a community college for a year before transferring to a better university.

 

I think a big part of it is that high school students generally have no concept of whether the amount of debt they're taking on will be worth it, so they end up going to schools they just cannot afford before they realize they cannot and will not be able to afford it. It doesn't help that our loan system doesn't take into account your expected graduating major, so you get a lot of students going into majors that won't make any significant income going to hugely expensive schools and none of the bankers are telling them they can't afford the loan. I think if we allowed students to discharge their loan debt through bankruptcy somehow it would have a big impact on how readily the US distributes loans. It would need some tweaking so that every student in the world doesn't declare bankruptcy the day they graduate, but something needs to slow down the amount of credit being granted that will never be paid back.

 

 

Another reason some regions have high cost is lack of regional competition.

 

Some regions have a major college system with many campuses, and they face relatively little competition.  The Penn State system in this discussion thread is a great example.  Penn State offers 20+ campuses. They do not face any significant competition, and they have a State-granted financial subsidy.  Because there is little competition they have no incentive to control costs, leading to higher prices for students.

 

They are absolutely not alone in this pattern, many regions suffer from it.

 

 

Another issue is the "me too" mentality of teens entering college.  

 

They want to go to the same local school with all their friends. This one is also easy to identify.  There is that one "cool" university nearby that all the cool kids go to. The school is popular not necessarily because of academic rigor, but because other people go there.  That school automatically gains high demand, allowing it to raise costs.  Because the cool people pay that much, other schools can follow suit.

 

 

Combine all of these (the ones from the previous post and these two) and you see an interesting effect.

 

Where there is no competition between schools on academic grounds, it becomes a competition for other factors; important faculty, important alumni, important administrators and trustees, and political incentives.  The competition is for a low teaching load, for high salaries, for extremely expensive athletic programs, and so on.  

 

I think back on a news article a few years back where a school (in Florida?) was eliminating the CS program to save $2M, and also increasing the budget of their athletics program from $99M to $101M.  The same day the plans were announced the school faced a backlash and reversed the decision.  

 

The highest paid public employee in 41 of the 50 states is a University athletics coach. The other 9 states, 5 are college presidents, 3 are med school leaders, and one is the law school dean.   In other words, IN EVERY STATE of the country the highest paid public job is a university leader.

 

 

 

 

PART TWO of the post --- WITH ACTUAL NUMBERS IT REALLY ISN'T THAT BAD.

 

There are a huge number of affordable schools.  Wikipedia lists the 2010 stats as 2774 4-year schools in the United States.  For comparison with other nations in the thread: Australia has 43, Germany has "about seventy", the UK has 163. The United States has by far the highest per-capita enrollment in tertiary education, 5.7% of the population, against Australia's 0.8%, Germany's 2.1%, and UK's 4.0% per-capita enrollment.  So there are more 4-year schools, and a higher percentage of people are attending them.

 

From the cost statistics in the US, the average tuition is $4081 at a 4-year school; the median tuition is $2916 at a 4-year school.  The high cost schools are low in number but expensive, which skews the numbers.  

 

So SOME schools are expensive, like the $40K or even $80K per year posts have shown.  But the median value, 50% of the schools are $8748 or less per year.  Many are much less, since that is the median value.

 

This means you can choose any of nearly fourteen hundred 4-year universities and pay less (or much less) than $2916 per semester.  I don't recall where I saw the number and Google is not finding it, but I recall reading that there were over 1000 universities with tuition under $2000 per semester. Contrast with a near-free Germany schools that have difficult entry requirements, or Australia's university system that is struggling to maintain relevance as the country's population grows.  In the US you have a selection of schools that is unique to the world.

 

 

Then factor in "free money".  If you are not rich you almost certainly qualify for federal grant money. Google shows federal Pell grants are typically $3678 per year.  So with 50% of the schools costing under $8748, and "free money" gives you $3678 of that, you need to come up with less than $5070 per year.  If you are willing to study and keep your grades up, you can likely qualify for scholarships.  In my experience I was required to keep a B+ grade average to get $500/semester scholarships, and an A- average to get $1200/semester scholarships.  Then there is the "Lifetime Learning" tax credit, where the government gives you up to $2000 over your lifetime for college and university credit.  And finally there are the tax deductions; a portion of school costs and student loan interest is tax deductible.

 

Combine federal aid and scholarships, and you can have an out-of-pocket expense of less than $2670 per year at 50% of the schools.  If you shop around and are willing to go to unpopular (yet still academically valid) schools you can have an out-of-pocket expense of under $1000 per year.

 

 

As a whole, most of the schools are quite affordable.

 

 

Just because the local popular school costs $8000 or more per semester does not mean that all university education in the country is expensive.  Most schools are quite affordable.  

 

Keep your grades up so you qualify for scholarships and your annual out-of-pocket education expenses can cost less than your annual smart phone bill.

Edited by frob
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I go to a solid state university that most companies wouldn't at least snub their noses at, and they just raised their tuition to around $6000 a year.  I don't really consider that to be gouging by any stretch of the imagination.  All these sob stories on youtube of people who got sociology degrees and face crushing $170,000 student loans don't really map well to a responsible reality.

 

Not to say I think it's cheap, as I don't really have a frame of reference, but I keep seeing all this PR that college is somehow bankrupting America's youth.  Affordable education does exist, and it's not like you have to go to ITT.

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I shall put it simple:

 

In economical theory a market will have artificial high prices when a monopoly is created as no one can really compete with them.

 

Education is(has been) a monopoly business, they provide two products.

  1. knowledge and training
  2. a job hub where firms could recruit workforce from

Many firms and companies(HR) have in many years not recognized the cheaper and alternative options such as online schools or self taught etc. Therefore many institutions of higher education are in the position to demand high prices and even use words like "for a better future", "for a better life" and "quality education".

 

Which parent would not spend all their savings for a better life for their kids?

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if people moaned on about the right to a decent education rather than the right to bare arms the price might come down a tad...

If people stop trying to take away our right to bare arms, then I wouldn't have to keep ripping the sleeves off my shirt!

 

j/king

Edited by Servant of the Lord
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... There are *MANY* schools that teach completely useless classes, and are cheap - however that doesn't mean education in the US is cheap, it just means there are a lot of unaccredited trash schools.

 So far, I still haven't found a *NON SUBSIDIZED* school that is affordable for the aforementioned courses of Computer Science, or Electrical Engineering.

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 So far, I still haven't found a *NON SUBSIDIZED* school that is affordable for the aforementioned courses of Computer Science, or Electrical Engineering.

Affordable is a relative thing.

I pointed out my own local inexpensive option with links above. Move here, attend WSU or UVU, pay about $15000 total before you get residency status, then pay about $12000 for the remainder of your schooling after residency kicks in. 4-years of education with a sticker price of under $30K. Since you are not independently wealthy your costs will be reduced by about $12000 assuming you qualify for Pell grants. That further reduces the out of pocket cost for a 4-year degree is about $15K. If you can keep your grades up, your out of pocket expenses will likely be reduced by another 30% at least due to scholarships, dropping it to about $10K over 4 years.

There are hundreds of other fully accredited state schools that offer degrees in CS or EE for similar or even lower costs.

Is that affordable? $10K over 4 years is less than most Americans pay on an automobile. For some families that is even less then they pay on television, cell phones, or other luxuries that are often considered staples.

Even that level of cost may be out of your financial bounds, but nobody knows those details. Affordable is relative.

As a card-playing reference, you can only play the cards you are dealt, yet many people don't realize there is a huge stack sitting there, just waiting to be picked up.
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If you can keep your grades up, your out of pocket expenses will likely be reduced by another 30% at least due to scholarships, dropping it to about $10K over 4 years.

 

That can be hard for people who also needs to work halve time to keep a house.

 


Is that affordable? $10K over 4 years is less than most Americans pay on an automobile. For some families that is even less then they pay on television, cell phones, or other luxuries that are often considered staples.

 

Not a useful argument for people who is unemployed or just happens to come from a poor family and only have so so grades.

 


As a card-playing reference, you can only play the cards you are dealt, yet many people don't realize there is a huge stack sitting there, just waiting to be picked up.

 

Now that is not helpful in any way.

 

Look here, the educational system is odd and near rotten when a monopoly situation has been reached and tuition fees seem to be skyrocketing.

 

To the OP I would really just advice him to try some associated online CS program. Google University of the  People and you will be offered a online CS program that has no tuition fee, it cost you like 100 dollars per exam and that is pretty much it. These programs will be accepted by firms sooner or later anyway as many Universities will soon have no room on campus for students and hence will opt for this solution as well.

 

Here is the link: http://www.uopeople.org/

 

None here has really given a fair online option so far, just 10+ K prices. Oh and when dealing with CS most knowledge is free to learn online anyway, so a online school with low to no tuition fee IS a great option.

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Affordable is a relative thing.

I pointed out my own local inexpensive option with links above. Move here, attend WSU or UVU, pay about $15000 total before you get residency status, then pay about $12000 for the remainder of your schooling after residency kicks in. 4-years of education with a sticker price of under $30K. Since you are not independently wealthy your costs will be reduced by about $12000 assuming you qualify for Pell grants. That further reduces the out of pocket cost for a 4-year degree is about $15K. If you can keep your grades up, your out of pocket expenses will likely be reduced by another 30% at least due to scholarships, dropping it to about $10K over 4 years.


A lot of schools also do work grants, which essentially net you a $25/hour job when you consider the money you save. They also schedule around your course load and you can very frequently get free services out of it (ex. work in the cafeteria and get 2 meals a day for free).
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