Can the government help make college cost less?
Oct. 24, 2011
By John Vettese, Student Voices staff writer
When your parents were deciding where they wanted to go to college, they were looking at a much less costly experience.
According to a National Public Radio report, the price of four years of higher education has skyrocketed in the past three decades. For example, University of California, Berkeley, students in the 1970s paid about $700 a year for college; today, they pay $15,000, an increase of 2,000 percent. That’s an extreme example, but college students are facing increasingly higher debt – in the past decade, public universities have raised tuition by 5.6 percent a year on average, according to the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center.
In a way, government is at fault for the jump in college costs. States are giving less money to public universities, meaning students are shouldering more of the bill. Even private universities, which don’t rely on money from the state, are raising their tuition faster than the rate of inflation.
Terry Hartle of the American Council on Education told NPR that while colleges receive less government funding, they have to spend more – it costs more to hire professors in a competitive job market; health insurance is expensive for faculty and staff; and student facilities are costly to build and maintain.
But can the government do anything about rising tuition?
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan supports more federal student loan aid, allowing more graduating high schoolers to afford college. And for students who graduate from college with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, but cannot find employment to pay it back – a recurring concern among demonstrators in the Occupy movement – President Barack Obama supports income-based loan repayment. That means your monthly student loan bill would be based on your monthly income.
Another solution, posed to NPR by Richard Vedder of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, is to cut government funding even further. The more it increases, he says, the bigger schools get, the more they spend and the more they charge. Vedder argues that putting limits on grants to schools and loans to students would “[reduce] the demand for college, and that is going to tend to reduce the ability of colleges to raise tuition fees.”
What do you think?
Can the government help reduce college costs? Should there be more government aid for schools? How about student loan aid? Do you favor Obama’s plan to base student loan payments on income? How about Richard Vedder’s plan to reduce and cap government money going to higher education? Join the discussion!
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