Is College in Your Child's Future?
As parents know only too well, higher education in our country is expensive and becoming more expensive each year.
At the same time, modern nations know that if they are to have a productive population, they need to have a highly educated citizenry. That is why Ireland, over a decade ago, abolished tuition fees for all citizens in the European Union. This has been one of the key factors in the phenomenal economic transformation that has taken place in that country.
But back to the USA.
Steadily increasing tuitions have been taking place even as universities get richer. Tuition increases have outpaced inflation for years. At the same time, endowments have ballooned. On average, endowments at 785 institutions of higher learning in the US and Canada enjoyed investment returns of 17.2 percent â€“ their biggest in a decade. In other words, as universities get richer, they charge more!
The disconnect has led some US senators to ask the nation's 136 wealthiest colleges and universities for information on their tuition hikes, financial aid, and endowments. Their goal is to try to force higher ed to make college more affordable as well as improve transparency in stating what it actually costs to attend a college. They also propose mandating that well-funded schools spend 5 percent of their endowments on tuition relief â€“ just as nonprofit foundations must spend 5 percent in order to keep their tax-exempt status.
Pressure from Congress may already be having an effect. Harvard and Yale recently announced expanded tuition relief from their endowments, and other wealthy schools will likely follow.
But the issue is much larger than this. Most Americans in college go to public schools, whose budgets rise and fall with the economy, not endowments.
And as we speak, as with so many areas in American life, the statistics do not bode well. For example, in an international study of the affordability of college, the rankings placed us 13th--behind the following 12 nations
3. The Netherlands
4. Belgium (Flemish Community)
6. Belgium (French Community)
For more information, go to http://www.educationalpolicy.org/pdf/Global2005.pdf