College Sticker Shock

cost of college tuition
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
If you have kids, one of the things you are highly aware of is the cost of higher education.

Average annual jumps range anywhere from five to seven percent. State schools, private colleges, the story is the same — many parents are in sticker shock. Who is it affecting? Everybody. Middle-class families can't believe they make too much to qualify for assistance, and families who do qualify can't believe how government-based assistance programs like Pell Grants have not kept pace with the costs.

Education secretary Margaret Spellings created the Commission on the Future of Higher Education. One of its recommendations is to increase the value of Pell Grants from the current level of 48 percent of the cost of state school tuition to 70 percent.

In America, we pay lip service to the level playing field and how education is the key to economic success. But if the poor can't afford higher education, then it seems to me we're surely not putting our money where our mouth is.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

By Harry Smith