The College Cost Crisis
September 4, 2003 A Congressional Analysis of College Costs and Implications for America’s Higher Education System by: Rep. John A. Boehner (R-OH), Chairman, U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce & Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), Chairman, U.S. House Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness
Table of Contents
Introduction and Key Findings Part One: The Federal Investment in Higher Education Part Two: Historical Perspective on College Cost Increases Part Three: Public Perceptions on College Affordability Part Four: National Trends – a State by State Analysis Part Five: Moving Beyond Excuses; Bucking the Trend and Keeping Costs in Check to Keep Education Within Reach Analysis and Conclusion Appendix: Statistical Data and Charts
“College costs are oblivious to inflation rates and a tough economy. Higher education is deemed such an essential piece of the success puzzle, colleges feel justified in routinely kicking middle America in the teeth.” – Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati Enquirer, “Tuition forces parents to pull all-nighters, too,” August 24, 2003 As an editorial appearing in the Houston Chronicle recently noted, “[higher] education is at a crisis point, the result of uncontrolled cost increases over the past 20 years that have greatly exceeded the rate of inflation or annual consumer price indexes.” (“College Costs: Republicans vow to help poor, middle income students,” editorial, Houston Chronicle , July 28, 2003) America's higher education system is in crisis. Decades of uncontrolled cost increases are pushing the dream of a college degree further out of reach for needy students. The crisis requires a dramatic response. According to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, cost factors prevent 48 percent of college-qualified high school graduates from attending a four-year institution, and 22 percent from attending any college at all. The statistics are similarly bleak for middle income students and families. At this rate, by the end of the decade, more than 2 million college-qualified students will be completely denied the opportunity for a postsecondary education. The ongoing college cost explosion is a disturbing trend, and one that cannot be allowed to continue. After all, education is the great equalizer in our nation. It can bridge social, economic, racial, and geographic divides like no other force. It can mean the difference between an open door and a dead end. And nowhere is this truer than in higher education. A college education has long been viewed as a ticket to prosperity, the gateway to the American dream. And today, higher education is playing a more vital role than ever in shaping our nation's competitiveness. Before our very eyes, the manufacturing economy of the 20th century is being transformed into a knowledge economy, in which a nation's fortunes may be more directly linked than ever to the knowledge and know-how of its workers. Parents, students and taxpayers are investing billions in higher education each year, and institutions must be accountable for ensuring that they're getting a quality return on that investment. A college degree must be more than a piece of paper – it must provide the workers of tomorrow with the skills and knowledge they need to compete in the 21st century. This year, against this backdrop, the Higher Education Act is scheduled for reauthorization in Congress. The increasing importance of postsecondary education, coupled with the troubling trend of exploding college cost increases that are jeopardizing the ability of low and middle income students to attend college, makes this reauthorization the most pressing item on the congressional agenda for education. An examination of the college cost crisis is a necessary step for any legitimate higher education reform efforts. The converging climate of record tuition increases, growing public anxiety and even outrage over college cost, and concern at...
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