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The Rising Cost of College Tuition: Behind the Numbers

Whether your watching local news or Brian Williams, the rising cost of college tuition seems to be an eternal headline.
Students are moving back in with their families...delaying marriage or having children because of all these costs.
Whether your watching local news or Brian Williams, the rising cost of college tuition seems to be an eternal headline.

According to a Bloomberg report, over the last 30 years nationwide, college tuition costs -- including fees -- have increased by more than 1,100 percent. For the purpose of perspective, health care costs rose half that over the same period of time.

"College is more expensive than ever before," said Mark Foster, the director of education for Credit Counselors of Arkansas. "Everything goes up, of course, but it seems like the cost of college goes up at much higher percentage than other things."

And it's taking a toll on our economy, adds Foster.

"Students are moving back in with their families because they can't afford a place of there own or they're delaying marriage or having children because of all these costs. We're starting to see these effects on our society."

Let's break it down even further, and only factor in the cost of tuition without the fees.

When you look at the average rise in tuition costs among Northwest Arkansas Schools, including University of Arkansas, John Brown University and Northwest Arkansas Community College, the increase is about 65 percent over a 10-year period. That's roughly a 6.5 percent increase each year.

But what's driving those costs? Foster believes it's due in large part to the lack of state money.

"The cost hasn't really gone up so much as colleges were subsidizing a greater portion and over the years that has declined," said Foster.

That factor, among others, is driving student loan debt, which is already $1-trillion nationwide. The under 30 age group makes up nearly 40 percent of those borrowers, and last year alone, they spent roughly $43.5-billion on student loan repayments.

So, what are universities and colleges doing to help cut students' costs, and how are recent college grads handling the their debt load?

Over the next four days, we'll take a closer look at those questions from the campus to the capitol, and the answers may surprise you.

Tune in for Part two tomorrow night at 10 on KNWA.

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