Tuesday, November 11, 2008

College costs continue to escalate

The cost of a college education continues to spike upward. While this is problematic for all students contemplating college in the near future, as well as their parents, it is increasingly an issue for states like Maine, which is struggling to increase the numbers of students enrolling in higher education.

A survey just released by the College Board, a nonprofit association of educational institutions that provides assistance to college-bound students, indicates that tuition for the year climbed 6.4 percent for in-state students at public four-year institutions, to an average of $6,585. Private colleges jumped 5.9 percent to an average of $25,143. The cost of attending community colleges declined, after adjusting for inflation, by 0.8 percent to $2,300 for the year.

A report released earlier in 2008, by the Delta Cost Project, a Washington-based non-profit, indicates that the United States spends more per student than any other industrialized nation, yet it ranks at the bottom in degree completion (54%), says a 2007 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The organization average is 71%; the high is 91% in Japan.

At the same time, the United States leads the world in the number of years its students spend in school, seat time obviously doesn't always translate into performance.

[Ctr. for College Affordability and Productivity, 11/3/2008]

For some, data like this is calling into question the accepted wisdom of continuing to push four-year college as a panacea to all our problems.

Speaking to this, with a clear mandate for Maine, is a recent report indicating the direction that New England should take to succeed as a region, in the 21st century. You can read an executive summary of the Nellie Mae Foundation report, prepared by a Boston-based non-profit, Jobs for the Future, here.

For a college student's perspective on the cost of college and what it means to him, as well as some thoughts he has about an Obama presidency, you can read Zac Bissonnette's recent post from The Daily Beast.

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