College Enrollments are Down, Tuition Prices are Up & Student-Loan Forgiveness Is on the Way: The Wounded Grizzly Syndrome
Earlier this week, Inside Higher Education reported that college enrollments have declined for five straight semesters. In the spring 2020 semester--when the COVID epidemic began--the nation's colleges enrolled 17.1 million students. Today, 15.9 million Americans are in postsecondary classes--a decline of 1.2 million students.
Some states saw more significant declines than others, and some saw enrollments grow. California suffered an 8.1 percent decline, the most significant drop among the states.
New Hampshire's student population actually grew after the pandemic hit, mainly due to increased online enrollment. I imagine a lot of that growth can be attributed to the University of Southern New Hampshire, which aggressively markets its online programs.
Businesses operating in a market economy often slash prices when demand falls for their products. But American colleges keep raising their tuition. Boston University--a very pricey institution, will increase undergraduate tuition by 4.25 percent next year.
BU's tuition rate will be $61,000 for the 2022-2023 academic year. And total cost, including room and board, is almost $80,000. Ouch!
Not to worry, BU tells us on its website. Each year the university awards almost a third of a billion dollars in financial assistance to undergraduates. In other words, BU assures us, most students won't have to pay the sticker price.
Indeed, colleges all over the United States are slashing tuition to lure students through the door. The National Association of College and University Business Officers said that schools are discounting tuition for first-year students by 54 percent on average.
Four out of five undergraduates will get a tuition discount in the coming academic year, NACUBO reported. So if you pay the total price to attend BU, you got suckered.
For more than a quarter of a century, colleges have raised their tuition prices annually above the cost of inflation. But the party is about to end.
Young people are beginning to wonder if it makes sense to borrow $100,000 or more to get a liberal arts degree from an elite school if their diploma doesn't lead to a good job.
With inflation running at a 40-year high, most colleges can no longer raise their tuition prices to cover their increased costs. BU's tuition hike of 4.25 percent is below this year's 8 percent inflation rate.
The Biden administration is signaling that it will forgive at least some student debt. During the election campaign, Mr. Biden promised to grant $10,000 in student debt relief to students from lower-income or middle-income families. According to a recent Washington Post story, Biden will likely keep that promise.
I hate to break the news to you, President Biden. Ten thousand dollars in debt relief ain't nearly enough. Millions of students have seen their total debt double over the years due to accrued interest.
Offering to forgive $10,000 in debt to someone who owes $60,000 is like shooting a grizzly bear in the gut. The shot doesn't kill the bear; it just pisses him off.Ten thousand dollars in student-debt relief won't make anyone happy.