The dire job market and increasing average student debt load has many students thinking about whether college is really worth it. As the cost of education continues to rise, there are sure to be increasing numbers of students who choose to forego higher education altogether. According to College Board figures, the average cost of attending public college this year is around $22, 261. This figure raises to $29,056 a year at private schools. The rates have hit a point that makes it difficult for many students to afford college, especially in this economy. What does this mean for higher education? It means that if colleges don’t take the initiative to make college more affordable, they will likely see massive enrollment declines. They can do this by:
Making It Easier for Students to Calculate and Compare Costs
Although school websites are now required to provide a net price calculator on official websites, many do not make them understandable for the average person, and do not make them readily available. To ensure long-term sustainability, colleges and universities must make this information clearer and easier to find. According to the American College Admissions Consultants, this step alone would make it easier for many people to find and enroll in a college.
Make the Transfer Process Easier
Although a great number of community colleges have articulation agreements with colleges and universities, the process could definitely be improved. As it is, many students find themselves spending extra time and money due to credits lost in the transfer process. Experts believe that colleges could keep enrollment up by expanding articulation agreements to include geographic regions, including the acceptance of out of state credits.
Cut Institution Spending
With the economy in trouble, schools could cut student expenses down by delaying major renovation and building projects. While it is important to provide a campus that is appealing to large number of students, affordability is likely to win more incoming students at this point. Yes, students are somewhat spoiled and feel that they should live on the campus with the newest and best of everything. However, if colleges and universities have to increase tuition to pay for these features, they will continue to lose students.
Add Variety to the Degree Offerings
Some colleges are now offering three-year bachelor’s degree programs. Although these programs are vigorous and exclude many of the extra courses, they provide a solid education at a rate that allows students to save around $10,000 in costs. In addition, these students are in a position to enter the workforce a full year earlier, making this an attractive option for many.
There are steps colleges and universities can take to make college more affordable for students. Some of these steps require sacrifice on the part of student and school alike. However, in this struggling economy many students are more than willing to make any sacrifice necessary in order to get an education.