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The Truth About Rising Tuition Costs

The price of college tuition has skyrocketed in the last few decades. But why?

Any parent of a teenager headed off to college knows just how expensive higher education can be. Tuition costs in the United States have increased by as much as 400 percent in the last 20 years. Today, Americans carry almost $1 trillion in debt from students loads. That's mind boggling.

Why so much? Why does college tuition cost so much? 

I heard an interview on the radio the other day about why college tuition has risen so much over the last few decades.

In the story it was noted that college and universities' tuition rates cover not only a school's operating expenses, but also administrative and teaching costs, scholarships, sports teams and sometimes large construction and expansion programs. 

And it's the new construction and expansion costs that could be fueling the tuition hikes. As schools expand and build to compete for students and tuition dollars, (as well as their prestige and status) costs go up. Think about all the impressive school resources that were pointed out to you and your child on your last college tour. To be honest, I can't remember visiting a college in the last three years where there wasn't at least one -- and often a lot more -- new buildings going up.

It makes you wonder: do they really need all these new buildings?

But it's not just the buildings and renovations that have caused tuition rates to skyrocket. College administrator positions -- such as deans, provosts and assistant deans, have grown, adding to school expenses and spending. 

Ironically, one area that hasn't seen an increase in spending is in the area of teaching. More and more schools are turning to adjunct faculty, student teachers or non-tenured faculty to teach today's university and college students. 

Ian Welham is an expert at helping students find the right fit college, and helping parents pay for it. You can find him at Complete College Planning Solutions, on Facebook and Twitter.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

jeff goldstein July 02, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Economics says that the reason for increasing tuition rates is much simpler. Universities continue to raise tuition rates because people continue to pay them. There is no incentive to keep tuition charges under control as long as people keep applying without regard to costs. Financial aid offers that are written in such a way that young people don't think to distinguish between grants and loans promote this. One way to reduce increases in tuition would be to ban or at least make it much more difficult to obtain student loans.

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