If you’re part of the middle to lower class students attending college right now, you’ve probably had several conversations with your parents about how much college is going to cost you and how much debt you’re going to be in by the time you finish.
At the very least, I know I have. The conversation tends to be stressful and brings to light how expensive it is just to finish a degree in the current higher education system in America.
The first article I ever wrote for the Collegian was actually about the rapidly growing costs of higher education and in the end left me with little hope for the future, but finally it seems like the government is beginning to take the high costs of higher education seriously.
In a bill recently released by president Obama, the government would begin pressuring schools into lowering the costs of tuition and making colleges more accessible for all Americans. The actual methods proposed include creating a “value” given to each institution that evaluates it’s graduation rate, tuition costs, and other important factors to determine which colleges are making themselves more accessible to the general public, and which colleges aren’t.
This information would be made available to the public in an attempt, not only to make it easier for students and parents to make decisions about which institutions to attend, but to shame institutions that are falling behind into turning college into less of a business and more of a public service.
For the first time in a long time, I think the measures taken by Obama and the government with regards to higher education are going to bring about a permanent and positive change for future students.
There are still many that argue against the “name and shame” tactic being used to force colleges into stepping in line to compete for greater federal funding, but it’s become increasingly clear that many college institutions ceased to be about providing an education to the masses, and more about making money.
I don’t think this is a product of individual administrative greed, as much as it is about the fact that colleges have acted as private businesses, while still under the guise of acting in the public good. They monopolized the higher education system, while the government was forced to pick up the tab by providing larger amount of financial aid.
Even while receiving large amounts of money from their students through financial aid and loans universities have previously avoided being held to a federal standard where the quality of the education they give was measured against other institutions.
Colleges, at their core, are not about making money. They are not elitist institutions, created only for the privileged few that can afford to attend them. With public four-year colleges increasing their tuition by almost 5 percent a year over the last twenty years it’s clear that actions need to be taken before colleges become even more inaccessible to middle and lower class Americans.
Education as a resource is the most valuable thing you can give a person. It’s the key to a healthier society and a brighter future. Whether or not you agree with federal control over higher education, I think everyone can agree that we need to see changes in rapid tuition increases, and we need to see them now.
Brian Fosdick is a senior JTC major with a minor in political science and enjoys when you send all of his mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.