Amy Choate-Nielsen: Is college getting too expensive for Americans?

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  • Baron Scarpia Logan, UT
    March 21, 2013 7:11 a.m.

    There are several forces demanding change in higher ed.

    One, states decreasing financial support. Thus, universities have to raise tuition and find alternative funding, requiring overt marketing activities to attract student dollars and donations. Schools have to then please donors and students rather than simply educate students. Foundations dictate hires and hamstring how donations are spent -- often not to the benefit of students or learning. Some money is used to influence student thinking (e.g., Koch Foundation). States need to better support education.

    Two, free online classes from Harvard and Stanford, taught by elite professors. Sure, they aren't making much money -- like most free online services (think Facebook, Groupon) -- but they're proliferating and are destined to impact the need for bricks-and-mortar schools.

    Three, recognition that most university 'research' is largely inconsequential and yet faculty spend significant resources to publish in elite journals that aren't helping students or contributing to society. I've seen research on Thanksgiving rituals, fortune cookie fortunes, and Chinese fashion advertising from the 1930s... no wonder legislatures think universities are irrelevant!

    Universities need to reinvent themselves to demonstrate real value to society – as true economic engines for good – or die!

  • The Taxman Los Angeles, CA
    March 20, 2013 5:21 p.m.

    Are you people aware that we grant 750k foreign visas (mostly to foreign students) and the upward effect that has on tuition? Removing a few hundred thousand foreign students from our campuses would create downward (market-based) pressure on tuition.

  • AmberDru Xenia, OH
    March 19, 2013 5:31 p.m.

    So why are state governments bending over backwards to give in state tuition, grants and loans to illegal aliens?..

  • dhsalum Saint George, UT
    March 19, 2013 3:08 p.m.

    Great comment, Mark 1.

    As a recent college graduate and the child of a high school teacher, I think many high school teachers work harder than many college professors. Now, I have no idea what the professors make, but most days they teach two or three classes and have one hour for students to visit their office for help/questions, then they're gone. And at a small school, like DSC, there were no TA's to fill in and help.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    March 19, 2013 2:22 p.m.

    I've worked construction all my life and have known a lot of college graduates shoveling right along side me. It's money that matters and you will do what is necessary in the real world.

  • cval Hyde Park, UT
    March 19, 2013 1:56 p.m.

    Only the poor can afford College. The Govt. Pays for theirs. the rest of us either can't afford it, or have to borrow.

    I paid for my College with part time jobs. My kids try to do the same, but just can't earn enough to do it. Helping them has kept me pretty humble as well. Even though my salary is comfortable, helping them through College has been a challenge.

  • Still Blue after all these years Kaysville, UT
    March 19, 2013 1:18 p.m.

    High tuition rates are artificially propped up by federal student loans. Schools must have students to operate. End student loans and within just a couple years, tuition rates will fall dramatically. There is almost nothing government touches that does not make it more expensive and/or of less quality.

  • Meckofahess Salt Lake City, UT
    March 19, 2013 1:00 p.m.

    The only institution in America that is more broken and illegitamet than our Education system is our out of control and failed Healthcare system. The greed of the institutions is bringing America down. Is there any hope for our future?

    March 19, 2013 12:31 p.m.

    Education is a labor intensive field. It doesn't really take a lot of money to build buildings, or furnish them. The biggest budget item for any education institution is its payroll. Perhaps one way to increase efficiency would be to look at what the teachers are doing all day. Some college teachers course load could be increased to accommodate more students. Administrations need to manage their workforce and trim the fat.

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    March 19, 2013 12:17 p.m.

    It's nice to see that the DN is part of the revolution to devalue the importance of education. If you really want to save costs, then support your state schools. Private/for-profit, colleges are the ones bilking the system, students and tax payers while putting in the least amount of investment in the classroom.

    And it isn't just President Obama who supports college and tech school. President Gordon B. Hinckley said of education, "I hope that if it involves sacrifice, you will get all the education you can get. The Lord has laid a mandate upon the people of this Church that they should learn by study and by faith. You will bring honor to this Church if you will educate your minds and your hands, if you will remain true and faithful as you go into the world."

  • Evolvedrevolutionary St. George, UT
    March 19, 2013 11:51 a.m.

    Re: Eliyahu, it does not cost a couple thousand to go to those applied tech schools. It costs tens of thousands of dollars simply for an associates degree. I know many people in my medium sized Utah town that have degrees but severely lack common sense and have no work ethic but complain they dont make enough even though they drove to work in a BMW or a mercedes. And then I know plenty of people with no degrees with alot of intelligence and common sense who cannot afford to go to college so they slave away at work just to eat top ramen. Sometimes they even work up to 50 hours a week and the overtime doesnt help at all once the taxes come out. Maybe if they made it more affordable to go to college and maybe if there was actually a greater chance of getting a better job with a degree than us regular lower middle class would actually consider going to college.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    March 19, 2013 11:41 a.m.

    A College Degree USED to be the ticket to Middle Class America.

    In 1978 when I was in college --
    Minimum wage was $3.25 and hour, but a college degree got you a job making 3-4 times that much.

    35 years later --
    Because the Rich have gotten expotentionally richer,
    and the poor have gotten poorer...

    The Middle class has evaporated to nothing,
    there is no more Middle Class.

    A College Degree costs 20 times what it used to,
    and the return on that investment (earning potential) has been cut by over 75%.

    Today -
    A minimum wage is $7.25 and hour,
    a college degree earns less than $5 more than that.

    You have a degree --
    Now, do the math....

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    March 19, 2013 11:36 a.m.

    I fully agree with Brahmabull. If we want the college education cost to go down we must strip the colleges of the right to award degrees and transfer it to an independent institution that only tests the competence of those aspiring to receive a degree. Colleges should do the job of teaching, but not testing. Students should have the option to study on their own. This will also open the market for private tutoring. A young man with a gift for teaching will be able to earn a living without jumping through a million hoops to become a "professional" educator.

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    March 19, 2013 11:07 a.m.

    While I'll agree with ruraljohnboy's comment above that many jobs don't require a degree, the fact is nevertheless that a lot of the people competing for those jobs do have a degree or at least some college, which gives them an advantage over those who don't. A high school diploma by itself doesn't carry much weight any more.

    That said, one of the very affordable alternatives to large colleges and universities are Utah's various Applied Technology Colleges, where the curriculum centers on the subject being studied -- nursing, medical assisting, dental technology, plumbing, computer technology, cosmetology, culinary arts, etc. -- without general studies or peripheral courses. Students can finish in a year or less and with an investment of only a couple thousand dollars. They're non-profit state-run schools without all the peripherals that make universities so costly.

  • GiuseppeG Murray, Utah
    March 19, 2013 10:56 a.m.

    re CHS 85: An uneducated populace is one that believes that the only learning that can take place in your life comes with a hefty debt price tag. Read a book.

  • Springvillepoet Springville, UT
    March 19, 2013 10:28 a.m.

    Students should be more willing to look at the economy of some colleges as opposed to the names of some colleges. I earned my master's degree from University of Nevada, Reno, in 2004, and the most I paid was $127/per semester hour. I know prices have gone up since then, but I shopped around. Other schools were charging twice that amount at the time, and offered identical programs. Some schools are better than others, but how much better is the question people should be asking themselves. College can be affordable, and certainly some of the "extras" students clamor for can be cut (e.g. public transportation vs. a car; used books instead of new; cheaper cell phone plan; working in the computer lab instead of the latest laptop; cheaper apartments). It's not easy to cut corners, but sometimes there is virtue in the sacrifice which teaches just as much as college courses.

  • ruraljohnboy Duchesne, UT
    March 19, 2013 10:13 a.m.

    "I guess an uneducated population is what we should strive for?"

    Of course not, that would be silly. But 80% of jobs don't require a college degree. You don't need a college degree to be a bartender or work at a call center or wait tables, but many HAVE a degree because they can't find a better job and if you can hire a grad, why not?

    Also, I'm not convinced that college degree = educated.

    And a population with degrees that don't match the job market is not what we should strive for either.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    March 19, 2013 9:38 a.m.

    CHS 85 - You are under the false impression that people who don't go to college aren't educated. This is part of the problem with our society right now. If you go to pointless classes, pass the tests, that makes you educated. The college says you are educated because they give you a degree. But if I learn the same things on my own, through books, research, etc. I am not given the same status because nobody was able to test my level of knowledge. Point is, there are many people withough degrees who are very educated, and I have met many people with degrees that aren't educated.

    This collecge thing must change. Students should be able to test out of many of the basic classes so they don't have to pay for them, but still get credit for them. Why do they have to take a class when they know all of the information anyways? Answer: colleges don't care about educating people, they care about money. In order to get a bachelor's degree you have to take several pointless classes that are barely above high school level. Is that really educating students?

  • Mom of 8 Hyrum, UT
    March 19, 2013 9:10 a.m.

    The article suggests students work while going to college to reduce costs. Fine, but where do they work? Our economy isn't the same as it was 20 years ago, nor even 5 years ago. There simply are NOT jobs available. We recently sent our son to North Dakota to work in the oil fields to earn money, after he spent six fruitless months trying to find full-time work in northern Utah (and he has job experience, too). I worry about what the world will look like in 15 years when my youngest is ready for college.

    Take a walk across a university campus some time, if you haven't recently. They are beautiful, modern, filled with all kinds of diversions and perks all in the name of recruiting students. And then the students pour all their money--and their parents' money and student loan funds--into maintaining that food court and basketball court and etc.

    Then, talk to some professors trying to secure funds to help their graduate students with projects. They'll sigh and say sadly, "There's no money for academics."

    Now, how do we reverse this travesty?

  • jbiking Madison, WI
    March 19, 2013 9:00 a.m.

    I had to/chose to take out an enormous amount of student loans to finance education. I can honestly say these loans have a large impact on the jobs that I am looking at taking. I have to look at jobs that will allow me to repay loans rather than what may be the most ideal job.

    There needs to be federal student loan reform. For example, there is a cap on student loan interest that can be deducted from federal taxes. Last year I paid >$10,000 in student loan interest and capped at a $2,500 deduction. Plus, this deduction goes away when you reach a certain income. Make student loan interest similar to mortgage interest deduction.

    Finally, something has to be done to bring down college costs. We will soon find it is too expensive to get a college education and we will continue to fall further behind compared to the world peers with a less educated and innovative work force.

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    March 19, 2013 8:52 a.m.


    I guess an uneducated population is what we should strive for?

  • Western Rover Herriman, UT
    March 19, 2013 8:41 a.m.

    The article briefly touches on choosing a degree, but that choice deeply affects all the other issues discussed. Should you attend a "more expensive, better-known institution", or will you do fine at a school "close to family so they could score free housing"? Go to college full-time right out of high school, or join the workforce right away and go to college at night? Two-year certificate, four-year degree, or postgraduate work? The answers to all of these depend strongly on what profession you seek to join, so you have to make that decision first.

  • ruraljohnboy Duchesne, UT
    March 19, 2013 8:34 a.m.

    But President Obama wants EVERYBODY to go to college!

  • sally Kearns, UT
    March 19, 2013 8:08 a.m.

    A college degree is not only too expensive, it doesn't guarantee employment. The top five percent in the graduating class receives special treatment for job placement, the rest have to hustle their own interviews in many fields of study.
    When you finally get the job, you soon learn the boss/bosses are incompetent in what they do or do not want to carry their workload, so they dump it on you. They go golfing and take long lunches. If you can't keep up with the sixty plus hours of work and make your boss look good ( in other words give all the credit to the boss), then you are fired and a new college graduate takes your place. The more money you make, the more taxes you pay and the more you overextend yourself financially. You can get caught in a financial mess.
    Unless you have a scholarship to pay for college, I recommend finding employment that will pay for you to attend college part time. Save as much money as you can by living at home. Use that saved money to establish a future family.

  • Diligent Dave Logan, UT
    March 19, 2013 6:00 a.m.

    "IS college getting too expensive for Americans?" NO. Rather, it LONG has been WAY TOO EXPENSIVE!

    I got two bachelor degrees in the latter 1970's. I began in 1975, after returning from serving an LDS mission in France. I attended the University of Utah (the "U"). My tuition and books then required me to take out loans. But NOT mortgages. They were short term loans from Credit Unions. Often I paid them back within 6 months.

    Back then, the college system was far more generous in allowing students to EARN college credit by showing what they had already learned, and getting credit for it. For example, I got out of my freshman year of college by acquiring 48 quarter hours (vs semester hours) of credit by passing different parts of the CLEP (College Level Examination Program) test. The fees for the test, of course, were far less than the cost fro tuition and books for a whole year. And, besides saving me money, it saved me valuable time!

    Tuition maybe ranged between $150 to $250 during the 3-1/2 years I was at the "U", acquiring not just one, but TWO bachelor degrees!