Photo Credits: Pixabay – 3D Animation Production Company

The Pew Research Center estimates that one-third of Americans under 30 have a student loan to repay. And for good reason, on average, a year in a private American university costs $ 35,676. Why is American higher education so expensive? That's the silly question of the week.

First there are three types of universities: the public, financed mainly by the state in which they are located; private non-profit organizations, supported by student tuition and private funds; and private for-profit, owned by private companies and investors whose goal is to generate profit.

Most American students choose to continue their studies in public universities: they are up to five times cheaper than private ones. For example, a year at the City University of New York (CUNY) costs $ 6,900 against $ 51,000 at a famous university like Stanford. Problem: States subsidized these institutions less in 2017 than they did in 2008.

"On average, any type of university combined, fees have increased at a speed exceeding inflation. In the United States, the prices of no other good or service increase in the same way as those of higher education. "says Frank Wu, former Dean of the University of California's Hastings College of Law and author of several articles on the subject. The emeritus professor explains this in particular by the appearance of the US News and World Report rankings in the 1980s. They have become very popular with students and their parents. Universities have begun to look at them very closely and continually improve their position to continue to attract more and more students. "If a rival institution builds a new building, starts to pay better for its teachers, and sets up new services to recruit promising students, then you have to compete with that school and offer higher or equal quality. These new expenses are passed on to students through their tuition fees, describes Frank Wu, who has been facing this situation as a university dean. No leader, no school, has the power to resist this influence ".

The US News and World Report's ranking is debating. Indeed, the cost of the institution is an insignificant factor for this medium. Yet other evaluation systems focus more on the quality / price ratio. "CUNY is always very well ranked because it is very affordable and at the same time, true to its mission", he says.

Damon Morales, a student at Utah Valley University, thought twice before enrolling in university. Instead of paying for a four-year course at the same school, he spent two years in a community college (a more affordable type of university that graduates in two years) then joined the classical curriculum for its third and fourth year. These first two years allowed him to work and put money aside to pay for the rest of his studies and to have no loan to repay.

Unfortunately, many students immediately commit to a four-year course and a majority needs to borrow. "Everyone thinks that whatever the degree, whatever the school, it's worth it. But that's not true, some studies do not have a positive return on investment, " sorry Frank Wu. This is what Damon Morales wanted to avoid, who wants to become an airline pilot: "People who complain about having debts are those who have a diploma that does not earn a lot of money".

As more and more young Americans want to graduate from middle School, the demand is increasing and so are the costs. "Even if you are not necessarily a good student, many degrees are available. On the other hand, those who bring in the most money are science, medicine or engineering. Overall, the fields of study for which universities were originally created ", explains Frank Wu.

In an attempt to limit the spending of their students, most universities offer financial support. According to Frank Wu, these aids take more and more into account merit. "Now schools are looking at grades and assessments because they want to recruit the best students to help them improve their position in the rankings, analyzes the former university director. The question is, what is the right thing to do: to base oneself on the financial needs or on the notes? "


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