KYW Regional Affairs Council
"College for the Cost-Conscious"
By Paul Kurtz
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The college cost crunch is cutting across all economic lines.
The latest Federal Reserve statistics show that upper-middle class households have seen the biggest increase in student loan debt, causing many of those families to carefully consider cost and financing when choosing a school.
Susan and Rodney Blackburn of Ohio have three children. Their oldest is a freshman at Penn. And they've already decided that loans will be used to help pay the bills.
"We think retirement money is very important," says Susan. "We have to tell them to take a loan out even though we don't feel good about that. You borrow for college, but you can't borrow for retirement."
Laura and Tom LaFronz (top photo) are paying a hefty bill for their daughter, who is a sophomore at Georgetown University, and their son, a freshman at Penn. There also have a third child, now in high school, to consider.
"Seven hundred thousand dollars," Tom estimates. Adds Laura: "All of our savings will be gone except for my pension and our 401-Ks."
Many experts believe that colleges cannot continue to jack up tuition year after year -- it's simply unsustainable.
But public universities have been fighting an uphill battle, says Tamara Draut (right) of the New York-based think tank Demos.
"One of the primary drivers of the increase in tuition has been a steady erosion of state support to their higher education institutions," she says.
At Temple University, tuition has risen to $13,000 from about $4,800 in 1993, while state funding is now at pre-1996 levels.
But Temple chief financial officer Tony Wagner (right) says the administration has finally figured out a way to avoid an unending stream of tuition increases: "We actually are implementing a $37-million reduction in the operating budget this year," he tells KYW Newsradio.
Looking ahead, Temple plans to launch a $100-million fundraising campaign focused on endowed scholarships.
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