When I went to a small, liberal arts college in the late 1950s, my annual expenses — tuition, room and board — came to $1,800 a year. Working in the summer and part time on campus during the school semesters, I could pay my way without accumulating debt. Today, attending that same college costs $60,000 a year. That’s no sum to be earned in a summer. It amounts to a lifetime of crippling obligation.
Why the skyrocketing expenses, I wonder. Thucydides and Plato have not changed nor has the outcome of the Peloponnesian war. Even factoring in inflation, today’s students are paying an obscene amount of money for the same education I received. I’m forced to ask why the cost of higher education has ballooned out of proportion to other goods and services. Apply the current rate of tuition inflation to the average price of a new car and the car would cost $80,000. (Click) Few could afford a new vehicle at those figures and, probably, the government would step in to investigate the auto industry.
Paul F. Campos, author of, “The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much,” makes light of the argument that tuitions are rising because of a decline in government assistance. The reverse is true, he says. The blame lies with an ever-expanding administration where many enjoy seven-figure salaries. Teaching salaries, by comparison, are “barely higher” than they were in the 1970s. What’s more – and I’ve written elsewhere on this subject (Blog 3/10/14) — the number of tenured teaching positions have declined and been back-filled with part-time, lower paid adjuncts.
Something is amiss when government spending on our military budget is only 1.8 times higher today than in the 1960s, while government assistance to higher education has outpaced that figure, growing 10 times as much. Frankly, the government needs to step in and ask for an accounting of why their increased funding has achieved paltry results.
Plato once said, “The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life.” Let those well-educated and well-heeled administrators of higher education remember: miring our youth in too much debt will not only determine his or her future but that of the country.