Has college become unaffordable? - FamilyEducation

Has college become unaffordable?

December 03,2008

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, has released its annual report on the state of higher education in the United States, and the news is worrisome. Although college enrollment has continued to grow in recent years, the rapidly rising cost of college is threatening to put it out of reach for most Americans.

Adjusted for inflation, college tuition and fees increased 439% overall from 1982 to 2007, while median family income rose only 147%. Last year the net cost at a four-year public university averaged 28% of the median family income, while a private university amounted to 76% of the median family income. Student borrowing has more than doubled in the last decade, and the current recession can only exacerbate the situation.

If you have a child headed for college, you are all too aware of the expenses facing you. Do you feel you are adequately prepared to handle the cost, or do you foresee a mountain a debt -- for you and your child?

The president of the National Center, Patrick Callan, says it is critical to protect educational opportunity by establishing college affordability as a priority. He urges U.S. states to adopt policies for tuition and student aid that balance the financial burden for higher education among states, institutions of higher education, and students and families. Each of us should make a point of urging our state representatives to make such policies a priority, to ensure the future of our children and a well-educated workforce for the nation.