If you know anyone who is paying college tuition, chances are you’ve had an earful about the crippling costs of a college education.
Scott from North Andover posted this question on the Curiosity Web page:
“The cost of everything has gone down during the recession except college tuition. Why?”
The answer really starts with simple economics according to Boston University professor, Laurence Kotlikoff.
“This year the largest entering class ever occurred. There’s a supply and demand piece here,” he said.
When you have more students competing for the same number of spots, costs rise.
Colleges are also competing with each other to attract the best students.
That means luring them with top faculty and amenities, both of which cost a lot.
Boston University spent millions on a new sports complex and a high-rise dorm because that’s what students now expect.
“You’re not going to live in a dorm with six other people and sleep on a cot,” explained Paul Combe, president of American Student Assistance.
Students also expect good food and other services that all contribute to the increase in tuition and fees.
The recession forced corporate America to make painful cuts, but many colleges are reluctant to trim their course offerings even if there is a lack of student interest.
Administrative costs have also contributed to rising tuition prices.
Many colleges now spend more on support staff than they do on teachers.
Suffolk University has been criticized for spending in excess of a million dollars on President David Sargent.
To be fair, some of the costs are out of the control of the schools.
Just like any family, they too have to pay more for the basics.
“Energy is a big part of the college and energy is rising faster than the inflation rate,” said Combs.
Experts agree, there is little that is going to change, at least in the near future.
That means it’s up to families to figure out a way to pay for it.
Christopher Penn at Edvisors says that means you need to plan ahead.
“As early as you can, 4th grade for some students, you should be hunting for scholarships,” he said.
A lot of kids immediately brush aside that idea because they are not straight-A students.
Penn says there is plenty of money available for average students.
There’s a scholarship for skateboarders and vegetarians.
There is even $3,000 available if you can make a prom dress out of duct tape.
You could also consider a community college.
Start there and then transfer to a 4-year school.
It’s a move that could save you tens of thousands of dollars.
Finally, go to a school that wants you.
Schools want geographic diversity so a student from New England is highly desirable to a school in the southern or western part of the country.
You have a better chance of getting aid, which will make it easier to manage your debt when you graduate.
According to Penn, students should not borrow more than 10 percent of their first-year salary.
If your starting salary is $50,000, you should keep your loans to $5,000.
Some schools are offering accelerated programs that allow students to finish in just three years which can save you thousands of dollars.
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