Skip to comments.Solving the College Affordability Problem
Posted on 04/04/2011 3:10:45 PM PDT by Kaslin
How much should a college education cost? According to the College Board, the average cost of earning a degree at a private, 4-year university is now more than $100,000. If tuition prices continue to rise as quickly as they did during the past decade, a college degree will cost more than $200,000 by the time todays third-graders are applying. That price tag is enough to cause most parents to break into a sweat.
Is a college degree really worth this cost? Some bright minds think Americans are paying way too much. In fact, Bill Gates--one of the country's most famous college dropouts--thinks it should be closer to zero. He told an audience last summer: Five years from now, on the web, for free youll be able to find the best lectures in the world. It will be better than any single university.
One could argue that the bright future Gates described is already here. The Massachusetts Institute for Technology has already put all of its instructional materials, including lectures, online and made it available for free. Other schools, including many elite universities, are following suit. For example, using iTunes University, you can already download free lectures from Stanford, Yale, and dozens of other colleges.
The trend of a free and open higher education system will revolutionize higher education, and fundamentally change the way that the world learns. As Gates argues, someday soon, anyoneanywhere in the worldwith internet access will be able to learn from the best professors and teachers.
Of course, access to instruction isn't the only, or even primary, reason why most American students go to college. A big part of what todays students are purchasing for that $100,000 is the degree itselfthe credential that signals to employers and society in general that one is able to learn and can survive four years of classes and exams.
But alternative credentialing systems, like AP tests and CLEP exams, are already in place. And the realization of Bill Gates's vision of free online higher education will surely be followed by new credentialing systems that allow people who learn online to prove their accomplishments and signal their value to employers.
Forward thinking elected officials now have the opportunity to expedite the arrival of the free college era, andin the processsolve a major problem for American families while providing big relief for taxpayers and federal and state budgets.
For too long, efforts to solve the college access and affordability problem have focused on increasing subsidiesgrants, loans, and scholarshipsfor students to attend college. Increased student aid subsidies have contributed to todays high tuition prices. The College Board reports that total federal support for all forms of college student aid programs was $146 billion in 2010an increase of 136 percent over just a decade ago.
Instead of this continuing this failed approachan approach we simply can no longer affordelected officials should focus on dramatically lowering the costs associated with earning a college education. For example, Governor Rick Perry recently called on the Texas higher education system to develop a new program through which students can earn a college degree for only $10,000. Presumably, this initiative will take advantage of the exciting efficiencies that are happening thanks to online learning.
Leaders in Washington and in state capitals around the country should follow Governor Perrys lead. Governors and state legislatures should require state-funded universities to follow schools like MITputting lectures and course content online for free. Like Texas, state higher education systems should create new credentialing systems to allow people who learn online to demonstrate their mastery and work towards a degree.
Congress and the administration have a responsibility to taxpayers to support reforms that will lower the $150 billion annual burden of student aid programs. For example, Congress could require a college that receives a certain level of direct federal subsidies place a percentage of its instructional content online for free. This initiative would follow the tradition of the Library of Congresscreating a national library of college lectures that all citizens can use. President Obama could use his bully pulpit to challenge universities across the country to do their part to solve a critical national problem.
Very few of our countrys many, big problems have simple and inexpensive solutions. We cant afford to pass this one up.
In India, it is 4700 for 4 years including Food, supervision, and Boarding.
Before Americans scoff, these people are being hired left and right by Fortune 500 companies.
India could be the next great education outsource destination.
That is what it should costs, and would cost if the government got out of the business of paying for it and the schools actually had to compete for students.
Even better, we could keep all the Indians in India, and the Chinese in China and out of American Universities and that would lower the cost quite a bit. Supply and demand and all that.
bump for later
Freeeee college! Yeah, you betcha.
Except the only thing they’ll need to know by then will be how to speak Chinese.
The majority of the students from India and China were already hired by US Companies, they are going back to school to get either the same degree they already have or to get a similar degree.
Most of the cost of schools have to do with all the costs associated with advancing the schools gravitas related to research etc....
The cheap loans allowed the universities to overcharge the non-minority kids to provide "scholarships" to the minority students, most of whom never graduate.
As long as the federal government is involved in who gets loans and why, our economy and entire way of life will be forever screwed.
100-200k is just the tuition, books are extra.
How much is it worth to you?
Let me offer a brief anecdotal observation from someone who has been to college five times since 1974.
The first time around, college was difficult. Classes were tough. People “washed out.” The second time around, classes were somewhat difficult, and counseling was offered to those who couldn’t make it. The third time around, classes were easy, and no one really failed, so no one had to drop out unless they had financial problems. The fourth time around, classes were blindingly stupid, the professors were ideologues, and the only way you got less than an A was being a white male student.
In an interesting turn of events, I’m now earning a master’s degree online. The cost is one-fourth of the same courses at the University of Alaska - Fairbanks (number four on the list) and one-third the cost of the University of Oregon (number two on the list). The courses are moderately difficult, and since everything takes place online, there appears to be none of the skin color fetish I’ve witnessed at other colleges. The degree program is worth the $5,000 I’m paying.
Online college is a lot like homeschooling for elementary and secondary students. At the right institution, I’d recommend it.
Just my two cents.
My son saved a lot of money by attending community college, then finishing at an in-state public school for two years. With all the money he saved, he was able to afford a masters at a highly regarded private school.
“India could be the next great education outsource destination.”
India already is a growing source of outsourced medical care: surgeries there (performed by MDs just as qualified as US doctors) are 1/10 the cost.
When I got my BS in Microbiology 1980, an average, non-major, textbook cost $12-$15. At the time we thought that was excessive. All of my Microbiology courses at UNC were actually taught within the UNC School of Medicine, so you paid Medical School texbook costs. Those were exorbitant at $25.
Nowadays, with two daughters just out of college average textbooks go for in excess of $125 and up (and up and up). I haven’t a clue what Med School texbooks go for nowadays. I remember seeing the two volume set Texbook of Surgery going for an exorbitant $75 in 1980. I shudder to think what it goes for now. “sell the car honey, I need to get the Textbook of Surgery for next semester!!!”
Yes, but the lead doctors have all been to US Schools and had practices in the US. As this expertise is transfered to India, look for this to change as well.
The only difference, luxury and the long plane flight.
Undergraduates? Really? When was the last time you were on a selective university's campus.
And I don't care if they are visa holders who already have jobs and going for further education. That just means there's two reasons to send them back.
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