With increasing tuition costs decreasing access to higher education for many students, the Center for College Affordability and Productivity has been working to compile and publish a report that will detail twenty-five ways for college administrators and state and national governments to lower the cost of college. Skyrocketing tuition costs have been at the forefront of the education reform discussion and with college and university tuition inflation rising at almost double the rate of general inflation; students are calling for change.
So, what’s behind these dramatic tuition spikes? Most students are aware of the current state of the national economy. And, while the economy has recently shown signs of recovery, a huge budget deficit and high unemployment rates still exist. For ground schools, an increase in hiring, specifically in the administration sector, has contributed to higher tuition rates. Additional investments in student services and school infrastructure (such as unnecessary NFL style stadiums) have further exacerbated costs.
To keep higher education affordable and accessible and to meet President Obama’s call for eight million more college graduates by 2012, a number of changes need to be made. Let’s take a look at a few of the twenty-five proposals submitted by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and why these measures need to be implemented.
1. Increase Dual Enrollment Programs: Many of the nation’s high schools offer students the chance to earn college credits while still in high school- either through Advanced Placement programs or other initiatives. More high schools and more students need to take advantage of this opportunity and start their college-level courses in high school. By doing so, these students will be able to apply credits earned in high school to a college degree, in effect earning a degree faster and paying less in college tuition costs.
2. Cut Unnecessary Degree Programs: While students should have the opportunity to pursue a degree in their subject of choice, the truth is, some programs are just not as popular or real-world applicable as others. By cutting programs that don’t garner much student interest or won’t adequately prepare student for real-world job opportunities, colleges will be able to save money and offer lower tuition to deserving students.
3. Promote Timely Degree Completion: Not only do students themselves spend more money the longer they are in school, they also cost the school more. By encouraging timely degree completion, offering incentives to students who complete their degree ahead of schedule or on time, and offering more cost-effective ways to retake courses that were dropped or failed, colleges will be better positioned to reduce tuition and related costs.
4. Implement Online Courses and Online Degree Programs: The hot topic of the day is online education. Online instruction is not only more flexible and accessible than traditional ground instruction, it’s also significantly more cost-effective. And, what better way to prepare students for an increasingly digitally savvy workforce than by allowing them to earn their degree from an accredited online degree program?
5. Reduce Textbook Costs: Textbooks now cost students a yearly average of more than $ 900. Partnerships with publishing companies have also begun to cost colleges more and more. Offering textbook rental plans or e-textbooks, two substantially more cost-effective solutions to print, to students will help to dramatically lower both student and university expenditures
6. Digitize College and University Libraries: Although digital libraries, like digital texts, have been slow to catch on at many college campuses, some, more progressive colleges and universities have turned to digitizing as an innovative way to save. Digitization can help to significantly lower the costs of operating an academic library and help administrators save the money they need to confront heightened tuition costs.
The cost of college needs to be reduced. And, if college and university administrators and state and federal politicians take note of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity’s proposals and work diligently to implement necessary changes, more students will have the chance topursue a higher education and earn a college degree.
Emily writes about Online Education for University-bound.com – a resource site for those interested in earning a degree online.