Last Updated Dec 9, 2009 1:57 PM EST
However, for the 70 percent of Americans that now go on to college, inflation is rampant in higher education, reports Time:
The cost of average tuition rose 6.5% this fall, and a report released on Dec. 1 by the Project on Student Debt showed that the IOU is getting bigger. Two-thirds of all students now leave college with outstanding loans; the average amount of debt rose to $23,200 in 2008. In the last academic year, the total amount loaned to students increased about 18% from the previous year, to $81 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Education.To put this in perspective, tuition inflation has consistently risen at roughly 1.2 times to 2.1 times general inflation since the 1950s.
And in a cruel twist, as the cost of a college degree has gone up, the value of a bachelor's degree has actually diminished. 42 percent of college freshmen now feel like they need a master's degree to compete in today's job market, up from 31 percent in 1972, according to survey results from the Higher Education Research Institute. Something's clearly wrong when so many people feel like they need to stay in school until they're 30 just to get a good job.
Considering that we are in the midst of a global economic crises, you'd think college costs would come down. Students can choose cheaper educational opportunities, after all. But as long as American society encourages an "everybody should go to college" mentality, backed up by government-subsidized student loans, then there's no incentive for colleges to cut costs.