Newton’s forgotten law

When college costs go up, students' spirits go down

Kristin Boyles, Op/Ed Assistant Editor

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Pursuing a higher education, as we all know too well, has left our wallets dry. Interestingly, for one of my classes, I was required to do a data discussion on a topic of my choosing, and I was curious about how the cost of college tuition has changed over the years.

Even though I knew that the cost of college is ridiculously high, I wasn’t expecting my findings to be so grim.

Looking at public universities in PA alone, I noticed that at least four different colleges – including Bloomsburg – have had a drastic increase in tuition prices according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. These prices are adjusted for inflation, too. BU went from just above $6,500 in tuition in 1998 to what is now around $11,000. And this isn’t including the extra costs of room and board or for out-of-state students.

Our college is not the only one to see this increase. Penn State, Mansfield, and the University of Pittsburgh have also experienced a hike in tuition costs between 1998 and 2018. Now, you might be thinking, surely the average household income has to have increased since 1998.

Oh, it has increased – but only by about $3,000. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis database, the median household income (adjusted for inflation) in 1998 was around $60,000. Flash forward to 2018, the median household income was still only about $63,000.

Yep, you read that right: an average of about $3,000 more than in 1998. College tuition prices have increased exponentially, including BU’s, while household incomes have increased only slightly.

This hardly seems fair to me. When you think about it, a lot of students are lucky enough to have at least have some help from their parents in paying for college, right? Yeah, except for the fact that their household income has barely increased at all while their kid’s education has become more and more expensive.

And for those of us who don’t have the advantage of having much help, if any, from our parents, the future doesn’t look too bright. If the median income per household has only increased a small amount in the past twenty years, what sort of outlook does that give us? 

Sure, we have student loans, but that isn’t free money. We’ll have to pay that back, whether it’s now or in 20 years.

It is ridiculous that the price of college has nearly doubled in some cases in the past twenty years while income has remained practically stagnant. I hope the money I put toward my higher education is worth it.

Kristin is a junior English major and is the Op/Ed Assistant Editor for The Voice.