Higher Education?

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Finishing this semester at Carlow makes me wonder about the state of higher education in the United States. It seems that the cost of college is too high and the quality of education too low with little hope for any kind of meaningful reform. Is a college education really worth the expense?

There are 6900 accredited colleges and universities in the United States.

Public four-year colleges reported a 2.9 percent increase nationally for in-state tuition and fees with a large variation by state. In 2013-14, published tuition for in-state students at University of Wyoming was $4,404 while at our Penn State-University Park it was $17,926. Pitt is comparable raising costs 3.2 percent for 2013-14, bringing tuition and fees to $17,100.

Four-year private institutions had a 4.5 percent increase in 2012-13 and an 8.5 percent hike the year before. Carlow’s tuition for full-time undergraduate students is $25,200 per semester, an increase of $980 over last year.

Most students use grants, loans and scholarships. For the current academic year with the average published in-state tuition of $8,893; the average net price paid by the student is about $3,120. Part of the affordability problem today is that family incomes have fallen even as prices for colleges continue to rise.

It is an improvement to see ratings that go beyond selectivity and nice facilities to targeting student aid to those who need it most, greater increases in public funding and better guidance to help students navigate complex decisions.

It’s near impossible to locate funds and it’s demanding to re-pay the debt, but it is also the most individually empowering experience our country has to offer. Education adds increased marketability, hands-on tools to weather adversity, an expanded view of the world and a strong sense of self-pride not to mention critical thinking and reasoning skills that will last a lifetime. In the end, a true example of dollars and sense.



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