Shrinking Access Post-Secondary Education and a Permanent Underclass
It is an undeniable fact that cost of a post-secondary education is skyrocketing? Students these days graduate with enormous debt, that is if they had a chance to go to college at all. Let’s face it, one of the sociological differences between the United States and Europe was in widespread access to a college education, for all economic classes, it helped build a strong middle-class in the last century.
Long ago when I started college it was an inexpensive 1200.00 a year that included books. I didn’t really have debt when I graduated from college. That isn’t the case for students today, and with the cost of tuition rising as much as 20% in one year at some state colleges, soon enough the middle and lower classes will be unable to afford post-secondary education. And the thing is, we’d become a thriving first world nation in part because we expanded access to education to almost everyone.
Let’s look at some numbers:
I obtained data from the US Census bureau. The first think you will notice about the data itself, is how differently Democrats and Republicans view government. The data released during the Clinton years is organized, easily readable, with a descriptive analysis. During the years of George W Bush, data is simply displayed in a big spreadsheet, no analysis needed! First and foremost, the data I found spans the years 1991 - 2001, the 2001 data wasn’t published until 2006. Demographic information is important; we use it to justify funding programs around the country. We make better decisions about where government money is most needed when data is taken seriously by the leaders of government. Republicans don’t take that seriously. I think it is because they truly don’t believe in the many functions of government, so they don’t take any of the data those agencies keep seriously. Because of this, when Republicans are in charge, government doesn’t function as well as it could or should. Unfortunately Americans take the function of government for granted, and often believe that both parties are bad, but on the micro-government level that belief doesn’t hold true.
It isn’t unknown to anyone that tuition at public universities, colleges and technical schools has been on the rise since the anti-pay for anything crowd solidified their choke hold on government functions. In the 1970’s prior to Prop 13, post-secondary education was free in California and in doing that they created one of the best post secondary systems in the country at that time from Riverside CC to UC Berkeley. California can no longer adequately fund it’s University System.
Since 1990 college tuition has had steep increases according to the census studies.
2000-2001 the data used is from Table 5b
In 1991, the total average tuition cost for a student was $2653.00 per year. At the same time students receiving financial assistance were receiving on average $2919.00. The cost of education has obviously risen, however, it is still affordable for students and there is still ample financial aid to cover the cost of education. These numbers will be used as a baseline for comparison.
In the 1993 -94 years, on average students were paying $3905.00 per year. In just two years the cost of education had risen 47%. At the same time students were receiving on average $4,486.00 in financial aid, which was up 43% from just the two years prior. A 47% increase is pretty big, and one has to wonder how many students at this time are beginning to be priced out of education. Well times began to boom even more, and people forgot about funding post-secondary education, and all over the country Tax-cutting fever began to hit every county in America. The result of course was less state funding for post-secondary education, and more burdens on students and their families. Well they were voting for that stuff, so I guess they couldn’t see plainly what could be the unintended consequences of the republican meme of “we don’t need to pay no stinkin’ taxes”.
Well the results from the 1996-97 study are even more stunning; by 1996-97 the average cost of post-secondary education had risen to a stunning $8,667.00 on average per year. In less than 10 years tuition had risen 292%, and in 3 year tuition had risen 122%, these numbers are stunning. And you begin to see a pattern developing, one that will eventually price lower and middle class kids from ever obtaining a college education, it will simply be too expensive. Well that aside, the average financial aid package was worth about 6,022.00, and as you can see it failed to cover the entire educational needs of the student, and I believe this began a rise in private lenders who would take advantage of unsuspecting college students, in order to meet the rising cost of their education.
The 2001-2002 years are even more shocking. On average students tuition is $10,560.00 per year on post secondary education. This represents an increase of 398% from 90-91, of 170% from 93-94, and 21.8% from 96-97, which the financial aid package on average rose to $6,291.00 per year.
It is now real news in every state in the nation that tuition costs are rising yet again, in my own state tuition costs have risen 20% this year and at at least one university it will rise 20% in the 2012-2013 year, that is huge, and in many cases it is becoming unaffordable for students to obtain post-secondary education. As a nation, we have to ask ourselves if this is really the direction we want to take.