The Cost of An American College Education

The cost of college attendance is higher than ever
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The cost of attending American college in today's world is higher than ever. Tuition prices continue to rise and while many major political figures discuss the state of a college education in America, little legislation has been passed to address reforms. According to CNN Money and a study conducted by Sallie Mae, "families spent $24,164 for college in the 2014-2015 academic year," on average. That figure sends the cost of college up 16% from the previous year. And, with a growing trend of students completing their degree in more than four years, according to Time article The Myth of the Four-Year College Degree, total college costs soar. So what is the current state of a college degree?

Cost of Attendance

Like we said, college is not cheap these days. The U.S. Department of Education's College Affordability and Transparency Center breaks down the average cost of attendance for colleges across the country for the 2013-2014 academic year:
  • Public, 4-year: $7,617
  • Private not-for-profit, 4-year: $24,269
While Public college tuition is priced drastically lower, out of state tuition for public universities often appear to reflect the price of a private university. With these prices being the average, the highest tuition prices more than double the national average when including room and board and other college expenses.

A 22-year old college junior in Georgie recently made headlines on Atlanta radio station, "The Bert Show," when she revealed she blew through her $90,000 college fund in three years. The fund, set up by her grandparents, was used to fund her first three years of college, in addition to clothing and a trip to Europe. While on the radio show, the millennial refused to take responsibility and chose to blame  her parents for her reckless decisions. She now enters her final year of college with a remaining balance of $20,000.

Most Expensive Colleges in America

Landmark College in Vermont is the most expensive college in America

The Department of Education goes on to list the institutions with the highest tuition costs. Many of these schools reside in the east coast, often in urban epicenters of the country. Locations like these offer students prime access to internships and job opportunities that may not be accessible in more rural areas. However, the most expensive college in America, Landmark College, is located in the hills of Vermont. These are the top ten:
  1. Landmark College (VT) - $49,630
  2. Columbia University (NY) - $49,138
  3. Sarah Lawrence College (NY) - $48,696
  4. Vassar College (NY) - $47,890
  5. Carnegie Mellon University (PA) - $47,642
  6. University of Chicago (IL) - $47,514
  7. Trinity College (CT) - $47,510
  8. George Washington University (DC) - $47,343
  9. Wesleyan University (CT) - $47,244
  10. Tulane University (LA) - $46,930

Numbers like these present the reality of a college education and ask students and parents to weigh the option between private and public education-- as the ten schools listed above are all private. The answer will be different for every student as they will take the approach that best suits their financial and educational needs.

Education in the Election

Oregon House of Representatives debate education bills

Due to surging prices of a college education in America, the state of the college degree has become a hot topic among political figures. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) made headlines last Friday when she signed a bill into law making Oregon the second state to allows high school graduates to go to community for free. The bill set aside $10 million into the pro program called "Oregon Promise." This mirrors an initiative set forth by President Barack Obama earlier in the year which promoted a $60 billion allocation of funds to create free community college across the nation. Since then, members of Congress have introduced the bill to take action of his plan; however, a vote has not been scheduled.

These headlines are the first of many to involve the talk of education as election season is about to be upon us-- many candidates are talking about education, more specifically a college education. As many first-time voters are college students, candidates look to appeal to youthful bases and get students to the polls. In doing so, education has become a present topic in many discussions about candidate platforms. We collected the view of prominent 2016 contenders on the state of American higher education. Take a look:

  • Jeb Bush (R) - Since Bush declared his candidacy in the 2016 election, he has been vocal on the government's involvement in a college education, at a CPAC appearance stating, The "federal government has no role in the creation of standards. ... The role of the federal government, if any, is to create more school choice." He emphasized holding students and their schools to a higher standard.
  • Scott Walker (R) - Walker has been adamant that every child, regardless of socioeconomic status or circumstance, deserves the opportunity of a good education. He now opposes the Common Core, which relates to education standards prior to college, and recently made headlines when he signed the Wisconsin budget stating a freeze in tuition at major state school the University of Wisconsin.
  • Hilary Clinton (D) - Clinton has pushed a "debt-free college" initiative onto young voters during her 2016 campaign. "We have to deal with the indebtedness -- to try to move toward making college as debt-free as possible,” Clinton said while on the campaign trail in Iowa.
  • Bernie Sanders (D) - Sanders mirrors Clinton in her stance on a debt-free college. He is a strong proponent on bringing strength to the American economy, stating, "If our economy is to be strong, we need the best educated workforce in the world. That will not happen if every year hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college and if millions more leave school deeply in debt.”

As the cost of attending college in America does not look like it will be decreasing anytime soon, it is sure to be a highly talked about issue in the upcoming election. Because of this, more and more students are looking towards scholarships for assistance in attending college. Today, non-profits and businesses are offering more scholarships than ever.

If you don't want to end up like the 22-year old from Georgia, check out the $1000 #FortOnFleek scholarship. Just build a fort and you have cash in your pocket for school. See full rules and eligibility on our website.

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