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Five Reasons Why College Is Becoming More Unaffordable

As the demand for college rises, the increasing costs of college isn’t looking back any time soon.

Brandon Walker



Nowadays, college seems to be more of a luxury than anything else. As universities increment their tuition each year, it is not anything new that college getting more difficult to pay off. Student loan debt – among other factors – forces prospective students to make smart decisions about how they will finance their education.

Unfortunately, Business Insider says, the future does not look too bright for any real solutions to take place. College is expensive, which is the reason why getting a degree is “less advantageous than it was 10 years ago,” Business Insider sources claimed.

But what are the actual reasons why colleges are so expensive? Business Insider explores five reasons why college is costing more now than ever.

Tuition now costs over twice as much as it did in the 1980s

According to Student Loan Hero, the cost of undergraduate degrees increased by 213% at public institutions since the late 1980s. At private schools, the number rose by 129%. These statistics – adjusted for inflation – are oftentimes the scary reality for recent college graduates who didn’t face nearly this amount of debt that their parents would have.

“Millennials are facing unique financial struggles previous generations weren’t, like having to save longer for increased housing costs, something that hasn’t been helped by the burden of student-loan debt,” Business Insider said.

Student Loan Hero also reported that over 44 million Americans are indebted with student loans accounting for the national total of $1.5 trillion.

“At a four-year nonprofit private institution, tuition and room and board is $46,950, on average,” Business insider said, when discussing College Board’s Trend in Pricing 2017 report. “Four-year public colleges charge an average of $20,770 a year for tuition, fees, and room and board. For out-of-state students, the total goes up to $36,420.”

There is a surge in student demand

The fact of the matter is that more and more people want to go to college. For instance, the Department of Education stated that in 2017, 20.4 million U.S. students were expected to attend college. That figure increased by over 5 million since the turn of the 21st century.

“The demand for higher education has risen dramatically since 1985,” said Richard Vedder, an economics professor at Ohio University. “Once demand goes up and nothing else happens, that will raise prices.”

“The rewards for college have expanded and grown from 1985 to a little after 2000 and sort of leveled off in the past decade. There’s a fear of failure if you didn’t have a post-secondary education,” Vedder told Business Insider.

Financial aid may cause increase in tuition

A rise in students who borrow money could be a reason why financial-aid programs have drastically increased. And as a result of that, it might explain the rise of tuition, Vedder suggests.

He said that in the 1970s these programs were essentially “non-existent,” and that the middle class – including students – did not receive money from the government.

Years later, however, Congress passed a bill that “made all undergraduates regardless of income class eligible for subsidized loans and middle-income students eligible for Pell Grants,” Business Insider said.

Since colleges know that students will automatically get financial-aid from the federal government, universities will take advantage of that by raising fees, Vedder explained in a hypothesis.

Enrollment is too fast for state funding

According to Business Insider, multiple state governments across the nation have cut funding for college, and are letting colleges fill in the lost revenue with higher prices.

“States provide less, and students and parents pay more,” said Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education.

“Studies have shown that when state support is level or increasing, tuition is flat. But when state support declines, tuition goes up. Roughly 80% of America’s students attend public colleges, so it’s not an exaggeration to say that the biggest determinate of the price they will pay for their education is the budgetary decisions made by state governments,” Hartle explained to Business Insider.

State funding cannot keep up with student enrollment, which is a smaller factor as to why higher education costs more.

More professors need to be paid

Hiring teaching staff is expensive for colleges, and is a labor-intensive industry for professors. Health insurance and benefits are among the costs that colleges incur, so as a result, funding is lower.

“The primary mechanism for delivering higher education at most institutions are highly educated people,” Hartle said. “Acquiring and recruiting highly educated faculty and staff costs money, especially in jobs with significant demand outside academia.”

In theory, factors such as “larger classes, more adjunct faculty and fewer full-time professors, shorter hours, and fewer books in the library” would lower costs. But students and parents ultimately found those ideas unfavorable.

Overall, college is an important option for prospective students who want a career of their choice. These increasing costs, however, make the decision more and more difficult. Many factors come into play that explain the tuition hike, as obtaining a degree oftentimes is the only way to get one’s desired job.

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Brandon Walker is a junior finance major at Temple University. He is a committed writer and jazz pianist. Brandon has written for The Temple News and is interested in a career in business and communications. He can be reached at

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