The majority of Americans feel that colleges and universities do a reasonably good job (especially compared to public high schools), but opinion is divided on whether a higher education is worth the prices that are charged.Americans are especially divided about the value of college when a price tag is mentioned.
Colleges and universities routinely offer scholarships to attract the best and brightest students to their campuses. But not all students take the road well traveled in their pursuit of an education. Many students choose a different course, and may have very different educational goals and backgrounds.
The issue of efficiency or productivity, then, is whether theoutputs or products of higher education can be produced with fewer orcheaper inputs, or whether a given monetary value of inputs can yielda greater volume or value of outputs. The search for greaterefficiency leads to considerations of, e.g., better management, moreeffective incentives, consolidations and economies of scale, and moreapplication of technology.
The third mega-issue is how the costs of higher education ought tobe shared among the general citizen/taxpayer, parents, students,businesses, and philanthropists or donors? Whatever the costs, andin whatever country, they must be borne by some combination of thefollowing:
In fact, the three issues above interact. Higher education as astrictly private expenditure, supported mainly by tuition, may bethought by some to be overly expensive, but that is no more a publicissue than the high cost of any luxury good freely purchased bypersons affluent enough to pay. The concern with unit costs or evenwith total spending arises mainly from public expenditures -- thatis, to the degree to which the costs of higher education are borne bythe general citizen/taxpayer.
(CNN) -- Is college worth the cost? The question has echoed in the halls of government, over the family dinner table and throughout the media for decades. But the alarm bell has rung even louder in recent years, when student loan debt in the United States grew to over $1.2 trillion and tuition increases continued at nearly triple the rate of inflation.
Higher education is considered throughout the world to be the keyto both individual and societal aspirations. For individuals,education beyond the secondary level is assumed to be the way tosocial esteem, better paying jobs, expanded life options,intellectual stimulation--and frequently a good time in the pursuitof any or all of the above. For societies, higher education isassumed to be the key to technology, productivity, and the otheringredients of international competitiveness and economic growth. Higher education also shapes and preserves the values that define aculture. And it is believed to be a major engine of social justice,equal opportunity, and democracy.
The result was the worst fiscal news for public higher education institutions and their students in at least a decade, as the economic recession struck almost every state.
So far this year, the picture looks even bleaker, with states continuing to cut higher education appropriations and campuses responding by raising tuition even higher, imposing new fees and reducing student financial assistance.
Bureau of the Census; the National Association of State Budget Officers; the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems; the Washington (state) Higher Education Coordinating Board; and the annual "Grapevine" report published by the Center for the Study of Education Policy, at Illinois State University.
For all of its importance, higher education throughout the worldis increasingly troubled by costs that are high and rapidly risingand that seem to be outrunning available revenues. Governments arecutting outlays to universities and other institutions withconsequent loss of staff, deterioration of plant and equipment,erosion of salaries, and loss of capacity to expand to meet studentdemand. Where costs are passed on to students and parents, debtlevels are increasing and access is being threatened, if not outrightcurtailed. Exacerbating the political tensions of the cost-revenuesqueeze are charges of higher education's inefficiency and lack ofcost-benefit accountability. In a recent review, Jean-Claude Eicherand Thierry Chevaillier of the University of Dijon's Institute forResearch on the Economics of Education write (1992): "The conclusionis clear. There is a financial crisis in education in mostcountries. That crisis is much deeper than macrostatistics reveal;and it is not going to disappear soon, especially in developingcountries, if new solutions are not found." This paper examines thenature and the dynamics of higher educational costs and summarizessome trends and patterns that are observable worldwide asinstitutions and governments deal with rising costs and falteringrevenues.
They show that state support for higher education, measured in current dollars, increased only 1.2 percent, a sharp decline from last year's 3.5 percent and the smallest increase in a decade.
This value is shared even more widely among African-American and Hispanic parents.* This is not to say, however, that Americans believe a college education guarantees success, or that a lack of a college education condemns people to failure.