The American Tuition Crisis
As the end of the school year nears, the national decision deadline for American higher education institutions quickly approaches. Many high school seniors are left in a tough spot, having to choose not only what school to attend but if attending college is even in the cards for them. Tuition prices have grown more than 250 percent in the past thirty years. Let’s say the cost of tuition was $10,000 in 1986, it would now cost over $21,500 if education had followed the average inflation rate but instead education is priced around $59,800. This inflated price has ultimately diminished opportunities for many US students. Many have been unable to attend institutions in order to receive an education that could propel them forward to gaining successful jobs in the future. Those who receive an education leave with huge amounts of debt on their shoulders. Students borrowing money finish college with an average of $28,950 in debt.
Unfortunately, there is no real winner in this situation. America’s higher education system needs to make serious cuts on tuition pricing in order to keep an education in reach for students so they can later achieve job success. Finding a solution to this crisis has become a hot issue. Any good solution would be able to reduce overall tuition costs, support cheaper alternatives to the typical four year university program and refrain from hurting university revenues.
One proposed solution is to handle it like an organization or business would to reduce costs. In Jonathon Haber’s article, “Solutions to the ‘Freaking’ Cost of College”, he explains that this issue should be approached similarly to how an organization would handle cutting costs without going bankrupt. He explains that the first step is to reduce expenses by product re-definition. This would work by reducing tuition costs overall by a small amount or having a student pay for three out of the four years of their education. This does not do damage to the institution’s revenue and allows for a more affordable tuition bill to reach students.
Many programs are already installed act in similar ways such as AP courses which allow students to receive credit from alternative sources, rather than their own university. Such programs also help save money by cutting down university time. For example, a student coming into college with previously earned credit can forgo a few courses which allows the student to finish school earlier. The College Board website even states, “You can save money and get a head start on your degree when you enter college with credit you’ve already earned through AP”. It’s both a money and time saver to utilize this already installed program. Another alternative source is utilizing community colleges during breaks from a student’s full-time university. Students would be able to get some courses out of the way for a much cheaper price than at their full-time school. This idea is similar to how the AP works by saving both time and money.
This proposed solution allows institutions to offer degrees at a significantly reduced cost without hurting their own revenue, while also allowing room for alternative credit earning methods to be introduced. Students will have the option of obtaining credits through alternative sources, and in turn save money and time with this idea. If some colleges implemented this solution it could in turn take away potential consumers from colleges whose tuition remains too high. The colleges would lose business so they’d have to bring their product in line with what the other colleges are offering in order to stay in the competitive market, ultimately driving costs down further. This is the best possible proposed solution because it is very likely to appeal to both parties, the students and even the institutions. This makes it is more likely to be put into place and therefore real changes can be made.
Many argue that the best solution to lowering college tuition is to make attending colleges free for American students. In Bernie Sanders op-ed for The Washington Post, Make college free for all, he goes into detail explaining how the idea of free tuition is not a new age idea, but rather an idea that has been around since the nineteenth century. Although the idea of free tuition resonates with students, it seems they are the only ones “feeling the Bern” on this topic. This is because free tuition is only beneficial to the student and ultimately ends up hurting the institutions supplying the educations. The high price of a college education is definitely a serious issue facing Americans, but giving out free educations to students is not the best way to tackle it in the long run. Although Sander’s argument appeals to American students living in a world with inflated tuition prices, they do not work in favor of the institutions providing the education.
It is clear that changes need to be made in order for Americans to continue achieving job success by gaining a college education. Lowering tuition is important because it will allow more people to get the education they need in order to have job success later on. The best possible solution for tackling inflated tuition price is handling the situation like how a business would cut costs and avoid going bankrupt. This proposed solution is the best because it allows for tuition prices to be significantly lowered through the use of product re-definition, while allowing cheaper alternative credit making options to be utilized. Both allow institutions to profit off of students so they aren’t hurt by the solution. This is optimal because both students and institutions can find common ground and the solution could be put into place quickly and efficiently. Overall, it is crucial that America’s higher education system makes changes to reduce overall tuition costs in order to put a college education in reach of students so they can later achieve job success.