College Costs, Then and Now

It’s already September, and the kids are heading back to school.

I was a freshman in college about a decade ago at UC-Irvine, and at the time, tuition and fees for the academic school year was $4,555. It was not a number I stressed over as someone from a working class family, because with scholarships and financial aid available to me (thank you, Pell Grant!), that number was definitely manageable. Today, $4,555 wouldn’t be enough to cover tuition and fees for the fall quarter. Tuition and fees for UCI’s 2012-2013 academic school year is now $14,056, more than triple what I paid as a freshman. It’s certainly a number more students and families are stressing over today as colleges all across the country raise their costs.

We all should be worried as people who may want to send our own children to college one day, but also as people who are interested in our country’s economic growth and recovery. A report from the youth advocacy group Young Invincibles shows that students saddled with debt are unable to qualify for mortgages, and therefore unable to give a boost to the economy, which relies, in part, on recovery in the housing market, and people shedding their debt and spending money. This is obviously a big reason millennials aren’t buying homes like they were a decade ago (besides not wanting to recreate the highly toxic market that put us into a recession, of course). We all know there’s a problem, and we want to fix it. The problem is how and what we intend to do to fix it, and we won’t know what we’re going to do until after the November election.



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