The Cost of Higher Education (NCES 95-769)
Many important questions about higher education are related to its cost. Is higher education a good investment for students? Is higher education affordable to students from middle income families? Is higher education accessible to students from low income families? Is higher education a good value? How are the costs of higher education shared between students, their families, and government?
These questions are interrelated with some highly publicized issues. For instance, reports of tuition charges of $20,000 or more have raised fears that college has become unaffordable. Some believe that federal financial aid policy should help more people finance their education. Others argue that too much federal financial aid is provided in the form of loans as opposed to grants. Further, as governments face increased pressure on their budgets, public higher education institutions have had to cope with smaller appropriations and are relying more on tuition as a source of revenue. Finally, average faculty salaries have recently been rising faster than inflation, but only after much of their purchasing power was eroded during the high inflation years of the 1970s.