Why Is College so Expensive?


Quick Answer

Higher education programs are expensive due to a variety of factors including tuition increases, reductions of state budgets, higher student loan fees, and longer times to complete four-year degrees. As of October 2014, as many as 45 percent of college freshmen take six years or more to finish their degree program. Each year adds an additional $63,718 at a typical four-year public university, including wages lost.

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Full Answer

College graduates in California who take six years, rather than four, to earn a degree spend an extra $58,000 and earn $52,900 less over a lifetime, as of October 2014.

College tuition rose gradually until the mid-1980s, at which point it increased dramatically because more people were going to college. Nationwide enrollments rose from 8.5 million in 1970 to 13.8 million in 1990. Colleges and universities compensated for the supply and demand by raising tuition to increase services to more students. Huge tuition increases occurred at the same time that state budget deficits grew too large to support higher education initiatives. Budget cuts were passed on to consumers paying for college.

College is also expensive due to building improvements, more support staff and higher demand. The value of college degrees has increased because of industries that require more formal education.

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