Yes, clearly one of the smartest economic reporters out there.
Maybe it’s soared because the dollar is worth less and the cost of educating has gone up.
Or maybe it’s soared because schools got greedy and kept increasing it and students kept paying it because they were under the impression that government might help them out, thus never decreasing the demand for education, regardless of the cost, so universities never had to settle on pricing.
Or perhaps it’s soared because public universities are filled with wasteful spending and bureaucrats.
Or maybe it’s a combination of all of the above.
Let me tell you a quick story about my college experience.
I went to CSUN (California State University of Northridge). At the time I had gotten into numerous schools, but I was still 17 and due to ridiculous curfew laws, employment laws and the extreme price of out-of-state schooling, I decided to stay local. My options were USC (private) or CSUN (public). CSUN was 1/10th the cost of USC and at the time, they had a well ranking business program so I went with it.
When I started there, tuition was below $1,000 a semester and parking was below $100. This was 2001 and the state as well as the country weren’t broke yet. Two years into my schooling, CSUN started to perform major upgrades to the school. All of the parking lots were flat land so they began to build parking structures. First they started with one and increased the parking rates to around $100, if I recall correctly. We didn’t mind it, especially if it meant that we didn’t decide between coming to school over an hour before we had to to find parking or parking on the street and getting a ticket (CSUN is surrounded by apartment buildings which usually take all the regular street parking and leave the students with the 2-hour Only parking spaces.)
But this was just the beginning. Soon CSUN began to build or upgrade their facilities and classrooms, as well. And this is when the tuition hikes started to role in. Again, we didn’t mind, since the tuition went up just a few hundred dollars a semester but we would all benefit from better classrooms with new technology and more parking spots. It was a fair trade-off.
But then came the budget cuts. Not cuts to the already planned, but not yet started, construction. No, they wouldn’t cut from there. Instead, they cut the number of professors they employed, cut down on the number of classrooms and only slightly increased the max number of students they allowed in each class.
That last point is very important. They didn’t add more students per class despite cutting down the number of classes they offered and with CSUN’s growing admittance numbers because that would make their teacher:student ratio look bad when trying to sell kids on their school. The result, for many, was that they found themselves taking fewer classes per semester than they wanted to. Some barely even got into enough classes to declare full-time statue.
For me, a Business Law major, had 4 upper level classes left to graduate and it took me a year and a half to take them. I remember that two of the classes had only one offering per semester and they were scheduled for the same day and time. I had to pick one and take the other the next semester. The other course was a once a semester class also, and once it was full, you were SOL. A few students were SOL.
So what does this do for a student? Besides the actual tuition going up, you end up staying for longer. Much longer than you ever wanted or accounted for. You end up paying more to the school. Sometimes you even pay for classes you didn’t even take (paying for a full-time enrollment yet taking less than the total allowable units).
All of this adds an additional burden on the student. It takes them longer to graduate, find a job and pay off the loans that are accumulating interest upon interest charges.
For me, I took an nearly 2 years longer to graduate than I would have if I had just gone to USC. The first time I couldn’t find enough classes, I looked into double majors and enrolled in other classes to fill the gaps. I had more units than the max allowed for the part-time tuition but not as much as the full-time maximum. That’s how I finished with three degrees. They didn’t come willingly or because I had an unhealthy obsession with diplomas. They came out of necessity. It was either that or throw away both my time and money.
You live and you learn (for a very steep price).
EDIT: Oh, I completely forgot to mention this. While CSUN was having “budget issues” and letting teachers go and cutting classes all while charging students more and more tuition every year, they were in the middle of building this:
A $63 million dollar, 138,000 square foot gym and recreation center. Yup, because that’s what we needed, a place to work out, not a place to learn something. I guess it’s my fault for mistaking this school for a school.