A friend recently confided that she had no idea how she would pay for her son’s college tuition. He’s only 13, but she’s already worrying. She said that her working class parents were able to afford her tuition to NYU, but this year’s price tag for tuition and room and board exceeded her husband’s annual salary. Her son will never attend her alma mater.
Even though the rate of tuition increases slowed somewhat this year, college is not affordable for many families. People are getting smarter about what colleges they attend and forgoing dorm life. I think the era of six figure college loans is over, thanks to the media (and no thanks to the higher ed community). Even with a smarter college consumer, there are few options open to average kids with average financial means.
Colleges are in financial hot water. The states have drastically reduced funding for their public colleges. George Washington University is cutting corners by not admitting financially needy students. Smaller colleges, and even community colleges, are having trouble with enrollment numbers. I’m not sure where those students are going. University of Phoenix? Colleges are staying afloat by hiring temporary faculty at McDonald’s wages. At some schools, 70 percent of faculty are composed of these itinerant, semi-employed waifs.
Parents can’t afford college. Colleges can’t afford to operate.