The cost of graduate school is going up

Because of last week’s budget nightmare in D.C., they are making education even more expensive after years of college education costs going up much faster than inflation.

Tyler Kingcade at the Huffington Post notes that:

“The compromise would eliminate the federally subsidized student loan program for almost all graduate and professional students. Unlike private student loans, federally subsidized loans do not accumulate interest while students are in school.

The agreement also would bar the Department of Education from running certain programs that encourage borrowers to repay their loans. Borrowers who pay on-time will no longer get rebates off certain fees, effectively paying more on up front costs, but borrowers who pay through electronic debiting would still be given interest rate reductions.”

The first part, that students will have to start accumulating interest while in school will make the total cost of a degree substantially higher for students going into graduate school starting next year. My own loans from my PhD, which were under $50,000, will total out to over $115,000 over 20 years due to interest and that was without interest accruing during the three years I was in school.

Over time, people will realize how much more it is costing them to go to school; thus, fewer people will enroll. That will kill programs like mine over time, especially when our illustrious governor just artificially created MORE competition in an already crowded state field. That will put more pressure on us to recruit in a down economy where people do not have enough money for school to begin with now. As the costs increase, far more will choose for forego school or choose cheap options like Western Governors Texas, whether the education is good or poor. We have already seen that at another university in Texas over the last few years.

Is there a solution? It is clear we are not putting political pressure on our officials to improve the quality of education rather than just driving down the costs, which is a noble goal, but somewhat misguided. Putting downward pressure on administrator salaries and costs that have little to do with teaching and learning seems like a better plan than cutting faculty and pushing more courses online, whether it is an appropriate mode for the course materials or not.

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