Making College Affordable?

In an effort to make college affordable, we have actually driven the cost up in the last 30 years. That is the conclusion of Bill Bennett in his recent book, “Is College Worth It?”

Here is the basic idea. Our government makes financial aid available to students. Colleges and universities recognize that the money is out there “on the table” and therefore they make sure that it gets used. We have accomplished exactly the opposite of our stated goal. By making “free money” available to students and telling them that “they have to go”, we have driven college costs through the roof.

Here is some data, from Bennett’s book, that supports this idea. In the last 25 to 30 years, the rate of increase in tuition and fees at state institutions has risen 150%. In the same time period federal grants and tax benefits have increased 242%. The real killer is that federal loans have increased 300%. This trend is helping to destroy the financial future of younger generations.

There is a vicious cycle that develops now. College costs go up and so does financial aid. When financial aid resources increase, colleges have to capture those dollars and their costs go up yet again. The ones hurt by this process are the customers. That’s you!

So how do we fix this? There has to be a way. Here is where we should start:

The Answer is NOT More Money, or FREE College

I just watched a news report showing a young woman who is leading an effort to have college provided for free to all students in this country. When are we going to learn? Nothing is free!! Those that pay taxes simply do not have enough resources to provide this kind of benefit.

Maybe we should spend fewer tax dollars on financial aid. After all, when will it stop? Pouring more money into higher education subsidies over the last 30 years has only contributed to costs going up. IT’S NOT WORKING!!

If you are Paying Cash for Something, You will Make Sure it’s Affordable

I think a huge part of the problem is that when we borrow money to pay for our education, we don’t consider if we are getting a good deal or not. After all, we aren’t going to start making payments for at least 4 1/2 years. We are so desperate for this cool school to let us in that we quickly sign the loan documents without thinking about it.

If the money you earned last year paid for the education you got this year, you would make sure it was worth every dime. You wouldn’t take mindless classes that wasted your time, and colleges would have to create value for a fair price.

If What You are Doing is Killing You, STOP DOING IT!!

This may sound a little extreme, but not when it comes to your finances. The student debt thing is killing your financial future. It affects your career choices, family choices and quality of life.

So if enough people started doing college differently, perhaps the trends would change. If more people chose a trade school education over a four year degree this could have a dramatic effect. We would get the skilled workers that we need and colleges would be forced to provide better value.

This is hard to do. High School Graduates don’t want to look weird and do something that doesn’t look successful. Be courageous! Take a different path.

So are we really making college affordable by subsidizing it? I don’t think so. It is up to the consumer to steer this ship. Be a part of the solution to this problem.

I would love to hear your ideas. Let’s connect on Facebook and Twitter. Leave a comment below and let’s start the conversation! Thanks for reading!

About The Author

Duane Rockensock

Duane (Rocky) Rockensock is a husband, a dad, and the National Reconditioning Manager for AmeriGas Propane. Since he was a teenager, Duane has loved hearing the stories of how people have started creative businesses or found ways to use their talents to accomplish amazing things. For that reason he started this blog to encourage teens and adults to find their purpose and to provide the tools and resources to make that happen!