The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

The Cost of Education

Since President Obama’s State of the Union speech last week it’s hard not to see commentary on his challenge to higher education. There are certainly a lot of questions to be answered still colleges were put “on notice” which has caused a bit of a stir – not necessarily a bad thing. Tuition is up, no one can refute that and more often than not, state funding is down. In a lot of cases, enrollment is up too – indicative of the economic state we’re currently in.  Jobs are a bit harder to come by these days and while I know I shouldn’t be, I’m a bit shocked about how many graduates are moving back in with mom and dad because they can’t find a job – it’s a very competitive market these days.

When Obama’s challenge first crossed my mind I immediately began to theorize what new higher education models might emerge as a result. It’s hard to imagine the current model(s) being sustainable long term but the challenge will be in how schools transform themselves to keep tuition costs low while still providing “value” (however that is later determined/measured.) The states will ultimately also have to wrestle with where limited funds are placed between higher ed and K-12 while contending with other rising costs. Further, our government will have to do it’s part to give the private sector incentive to keep jobs stateside and provide fertile ground in which they can grow. As an aside I hope we’ll see more private firms come alongside of our colleges and universities to create more co-op like programs giving students work experience and hopefully a job once they graduate.

While many will chalk up Obama’s words to election season rhetoric and there is still a lot unclear regarding this challenge, the cost of education continues to rise. As a nation, can we afford it?