Today’s College Students Are Paying More for Less

Despite the soaring costs of attending American colleges and universities, their students are receiving an education that falls far short of the one experienced by earlier generations.

The sharp increase in costs is clear enough. Between 1978 and 2013, American college tuition rose by 1,120 percent, and became the major source of revenue for higher education. Traditionally, most public colleges and universities had no tuition or very low tuition. But, faced with severe cutbacks in government funding from conservative state legislatures, these public schools adopted a tuition system or dramatically raised tuition. Today, at the University of California/Berkeley (which, like the rest of the University of California system, was tuition-freeuntil the 1980s), the total yearly costfor tuition, room, board, books, and related items is $36,015 for an in-state student and $64,029 for an out-of-state student. At the State University of New York/Albany (which, like the rest of the SUNY system, was tuition-freeuntil 1963), the total annual costfor an in-state student is $26,490 and for out-of-state student is roughly $43,000.

The costs at private colleges are even higher. Today, Harvard College estimates the total annual expenses for its students at $67,580. At Columbia College, the estimated annual expenses for students have climbed to $74,173.

This huge spike in the cost of a college education has had a devastating effectupon educational opportunity. Unable to afford college, many…

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