Is Cost of College Too High: Argumentative Essay

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Is college for you or against you? The cost of a college education greatly affects a family's financial situation. Students often accumulate a large sum of debt and end up working to pay it off for years down the road. Roger Scruton, author of “The Idea of a University” informs readers despite the cost, universities are an irreplaceable value. However, there is no denying that college costs have catapulted over the past decade; as the costs of tuition continue to rise, the argument for free college remains disputed amongst politicians and the like. Although investing in the future may be scary as there is no warranted reward for the expense of college, the future may be in the hands of those that act now to mold the expense into something easier to manage.

It is no surprise that college tuition costs have been changing substantially, and there are numerous reasons to blame. Inside “The Rise and Fall of College Tuition Inflation”, Brent Bundick and Emily Pollard document the alterations of the costs over time and attempt to give an explanation for the long rise and sudden fall in college tuition inflation. They say that “Changes in supply-side factors, such as rising wages in the education sector or declines in state appropriations for higher education, may cause colleges and universities to pass changes in their costs and revenues on to students in the form of higher tuition” (Bundick & Pollard 1). Furthermore, changes in demand factors, like a rise in available student loan programs, can additionally increase tuition by making it more desirable and thereby raising demand. The cost of college tuition increased exponentially quicker than the price of other goods and services between 1980 and 2004 then slowed near 2005. “After peaking near 10 percent in 2004, college tuition inflation has trended down over the last decade and averaged about 2 percent during 2017 and 2018” (Bunduck & Pollard 2).

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When mentioning the costs of higher education, some politicians believe the answer is quite simple: make college free. Bryce Covert, a journalist and contributor at The Nation and op-ed writer for The New York Times, wrote an article titled “The Free College Try.” In this article, he addresses how today, money from the government primarily flows to well-off students. After student loans, the largest chunk (more than half) of student aid is provided through the tax code. Covert explains that “Instead of pouring money into higher education through the tax code, where the rich soak it up, or subsidizing school through loans and grants, the government could make public college free.” (Covert 5). Included in his work is a bar chart that depicts that the households with the lowest quartile income receive the least amount of tax aid, whereas the households that have the highest quartile income receive the most amount. This raises the problem that the students who get the most tax aid need it the least. Covert proclaims that the U.S is financially capable of the move “we [the government] have the money” (Covert 5). The government spends billions of dollars on subsidizing higher education. To provide data for that statement, Covert presents that in 2017, $76 billion was spent on public tuition and fees, and the federal spending on financial aid for college was $160 billion. He concludes with a statement that compares college to K-12 and how free education should not end subsequently after graduation from K-12.

In contrast, Jason Delisle, writer of “The Cost of Free-College Plans” discusses the free-college plan proposals that politicians argue for and what impact they would have on the U.S. Advocates of free-college plans argue that it is the fault of state governments for cutting funding to universities to offset students' college spendings, forcing them to raise tuition prices. However, there are more contributing factors, and in fact, states have slightly raised funding for colleges. Delisle analyzed a trend in sticker prices of universities and found that “students from high-income families have experienced tuition increases about nine times larger than their low- and middle-income peers at public universities” (Delisle 28). Although, it is important to note that this statistic should be taken with a grain of salt because high-income families frequently do not qualify for the types of aid that keep increasing tuition prices in check for others. These students are also more probable to attend more expensive institutions. This information could give the reason why “the narrative about sharply rising college prices dominates popular discussion despite what the data show for low- and middle-income students at in-state public universities” (Delisle 28).

Alternatively, Philip DiStefano, the Office of the Chancellor at the University of Colorado and author of “Colleges Must Innovate to Lower Costs”, writes that it is up to universities to lower the cost through innovative means. DiStefano claims that “We are gambling with our nation’s future by pricing its brightest young minds out of higher education” (DiStefano 46). He stands for the cutting of financial obstacles so students can graduate with minimal debt. According to a 2016 study, students have seen a 95 percent rise in fees at four-year universities from the year 2000. DiStefano claims that “It’s up to America’s universities, as models of innovation, to make higher education accessible and affordable as an investment in the nation’s future” (DiStefano 46). He points at the University of Colorado Boulder for taking steps in the right direction. In 2018, the college adopted the removal of the program and course-related fees, which created an estimated family savings of $8.4 million a year. Through scholarship funding, the college has decreased student debt by 14.5 percent from 2013. Not only that, but the college provides open educational resources to cut down on textbook costs. The hope is to provide teaching materials at a tremendous discount to students. He hopes that this trend translates to other colleges to keep costs down for students and not deter them from getting a college education.

Despite the claims of the previous articles, a report written by Cyril Josh Barker, a writer for the New York Amsterdam News, exclaims that a study found “Despite rising college costs, a clear majority of families believe higher education is well worth the investment and most students and parents are willing to stretch themselves financially to make it happen” (Barker 29). This report and evidence are in agreement with “The Idea of a University” by Roger Scruton. The article discusses the value of attending college, and this report provides evidence to back up the claims. According to the report, the national study discovered “66 percent of college-going families believe they are getting a good value for the price they’re paying... and 20 percent say college is worth every penny” (Barker 29). Raymond J. Quinlan, chairman, and CEO of Sallie Mae, the company behind conducting the study, says that “‘Families resoundingly shared that college is worth the cost, and their resourcefulness made it more affordable”’ (Barker 29). This report discusses that students are taking classes over a shorter time period to graduate quicker and are cutting back on spending, ultimately implying that it is up to families to make college affordable.

In conclusion, these contradicting views represent largely held arguments behind the increasing cost of college tuition. Between college tuition being better handled by the government, universities working to lower the cost, and treating college as an investment and preparing for it ahead of time, it remains undetermined what the solution will be until action is taken on the matter.

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Is Cost of College Too High: Argumentative Essay. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 19, 2024, from
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