A new report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education found that between 1982 and 2007, college tuition and fees increased 439 percent while median family incomes rose 147 percent. On average, families now direct 28 percent of their income toward their childrens public education, while the figure for private education is an incomprehensible 76 percent. Families in the lowest income bracket now pay 49 percent of their income for community college tuition even our traditionally safe-haven colleges have become practically unaffordable.
President George W. Bush responded to this crisis by expanding private student loans, which have higher interest rates and less flexible payment options than their government-sponsored counterparts. He signed a bill this spring, which provided the necessary tools for safeguarding student loans. But ironically Bush forgot to safeguard students themselves. Forced to cope with exorbitant education prices, students now turn to loans at a rate never before seen. "The Project on Student Debt estimates that the class of 2007, nationally, graduated with an average debt of $21,900.
This situation is completely unacceptable. Economic crisis or not, with this history, college funding should be the absolute last item on the state budget chopping block. Higher education has become so insanely unaffordable that the United States is now one of a few sorry nations where 25- to 34-year-olds are less educated than older workers. America cannot compete in the global economy with an uneducated workforce. If were looking to make the economic crisis permanent, the United States should just keep it up.