Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fuddy-duddy me had no idea of how much tuition has gone up in 25 years.

    I just had an experience that shows just how old and out of touch I am.
    I blogged a few weeks ago (I haven't been very active lately) that Ash was taking a single college course and much to my surprise he got a tuition scholarship. From my post:
After his acceptance into the program we got a very welcome surprise. We had expected to pay about $400 in tuition to cover Ash's three-hour college course. When he got his acceptance email he also got a notice that all high school students in the Ole Miss dual credit program receive a tuition scholarship. So his cost to take the college course is limited to the price of the textbook.
    Well, I logged into Ash's account today and saw he had a balance due. I called the bursar to see what was going on and was informed that the cost to take a single three-hour course is roughly $840. Ash's tuition scholarship covered only half of this amount.
    My best recollection is that when I was in school in the early- to mid-1980s the cost of tuition was substantially less than $1,000, with the student activity fee and other costs adding about $300 to this amount. I tried to find some exact numbers but came up empty, so I have to go from memory. I didn't pay much more than that for law school, perhaps $1,500 per semester total. I remember thinking that out of all the costs associated with going to college, tuition was just a drop in the bucket.
    UPDATE: Several people have posted on my Facebook thread that the total undergraduate tuition in the mid-1980s was about $750.
    Tuition is no longer a drop in the bucket. It's a bucket full! The cost for an Ole Miss undergraduate attending full time is $3,300 per semester. The cost for law school is almost $6,800 per semester.
    Things aren't so bad when you put an inflation calculator to it. $1,100 in 1984 had the same buying power as $2,500 today. $1,500 in 1987 had the same buying power as $3,000 today. So undergraduate tuition has risen 50 percent more than the Consumer Price Index; law school tuition, though, has outpaced inflation by more than 100 percent.
    When you put an inflation calculator to this, you find that $750 in 1985 had the same buying power as 1,630 today. Since current tuition is $3,300, undergraduate tuition at Ole Miss has risen at more than twice the inflation right. So in constant dollars, tuition has doubled in less than 20 years.
    Of course, the tuition at other state schools is far higher than Ole Miss. Tuition and fees at the Universities of Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, or Texas run from $5,000 to $5,500 per semester. So despite the tuition increases Ole Miss is still only charges in-state residents about two-thirds of the tuition in other states. Out-of-state students pay an extra $5,000 per semester, which for many students is still a bargain compared to other colleges.
    Part of what is going on with these tuition increases is that virtually all state governments have cut back on support for higher education, as this USA Today story illustrates. The money has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is frequently from the students themselves. And today's college campuses just seem a lot nicer than they used to. This luxury costs money, too.
    There are some legitimate concerns about the amount of debt that students are having to take on to finance these ever-increasing tuition costs. That's a post for another day. For now, I'll quit my belly-achin' and go pay the bursar  -- and be grateful that we got a half-scholarship.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"higher education" has out-paced its own value. I don't see where they are teaching relevant subjects or principals. Very, very, very few who come out of college understand the very basics of economics, competition or even basic personal finance. Regardless of what profession you pursue and practice, economic (either business or personal) are essential to being a functional, PRODUCTIVE, participant in society. NOT, however, if your only goal is to work for somebody else or ride on the govt dole. Bottom line is that for what you pay for college, you could get a better education and value somewhere else. Just not exactly sure where that is at this point of the American experiment.