Wait, So the Cost of College Has Risen How Much?!

Anna Williams

college cost riseIt’s a no-brainer that college costs have steadily increased. But you might be surprised to learn just exactly how much they’ve skyrocketed.

According to a new Bloomberg chart, the price of a college degree has soared a whopping 538% since 1985.

Meanwhile, consider this comparison: During the same time span, the consumer price index (which measures overall inflation) rose by 121% and medical costs grew by 286%.

What’s more, as MSN Money reports, is that it doesn’t look like that more-expensive degree is actually worth its heftier price tag. In fact, grads are, on average, earning $3,200 less than they did back in 2000—and, compared to a decade ago, the number of grads who are only earning minimum wage has increased 70%.

With numbers this shocking, it’s no surprise that lawmakers are working to keep college costs from ballooning out of control. This summer, Congress debated about the rising interest rates on student loans, and President Obama proposed new plans to make college more affordable just last week.

Many experts see the need to act quickly on the matter. Michelle Cooper, president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, told Bloomberg that the continuing increases might just be enough to compromise the “prestige and status” of higher education in America.

RELATED: 6 Tips to Lower the Cost of College

  • Julie G

    And wages have risen how much? Oh, yeah, hardly at all. If I had college-age kids today I would tell them to become plumbers or electricians, and then get a contractors’ license. They might have fluctuations in future earnings, but not crippling debt.

    • Eastwestcoaster

      Why, they can only go so far with those careers and the amount they would earn would be far less than if they had a college degree in a meaningful career field that is known to pay more? What if they want to become learn something way different and not be a contractor, which can be grueling over time. There is a new plan that if students pay the minimum monthly payment based on 10% of their income and they work for a public service, that in 10 years, the rest of their federal loans are forgiven. FYI, don’t ever get private student loans, they don’t have those programs like the federal ones do. But, yeah 538%, that just confirms what everyone has been saying for the past decade about college tuition and lenders. It’s been unchecked until recently, and even now, there has been no capping of tuition yet. The schools need to find money from other sources and not the students themselves because over time the student won’t be able to pay back all of that money, and the schools get the money up front of course.

      • mumsy64

        Eastwestcoaster, just try to live your life, or build a house even, without the people who enter those careers that you label meaningless, such as plumber, or electrician. In fact without my husband, and his meaningless career, and fellow power plant operators, your life would be pretty crappy. Well you certainly wouldn’t be able to sit at a computer and make your uninformed opinions. Oh yeah he makes far more money than most college degree holders, more than I do.

        • Eastwestcoaster

          I never said we didn’t need people to do those jobs. I apologize for the negative connotation. There are statistics out there that show that having a college degree allows you to make more money over your lifetime, however there are always exceptions. For me I decided to go the college route because of this and because I wanted to work at a job that was meaningful to “me”. Not a job I would be unhappy with. I work for an agency that regulates things and has to make very difficult decisions that affect entire states and the entire country as well, so don’t jump to any conclusions on your part. Everyone has their role in society. I make a lot more money with the job I have now compared to when I didn’t have my degrees by a ton. So, for me this stands true. I didn’t grow up in a wealthy family, so I worked my butt off and studied hard to get to where I am now and it has given me the potential to move up in pay-scale substantially. The unfortunate part that this article depicts is that people like me who are contributing greatly to society are less able to buy houses or save money because of the drastic increase in loans every year. That’s why people my age are waiting longer to have babies and get married and do things that my parents could do when they were 5 years younger than me. If you think that no one should get a college level education, you are greatly misinformed as well, I hope that isn’t what you are inferring above. They don’t teach the things I learned in college in high schools and some of the public high schools are losing funding and aren’t able to teach the same way they used to when I was that young.

          • mumsy64

            I am not saying that no one should get a college degree. I am saying though that for the ladt thirty years, while raising their rates 2000 times the rate of inflation, and at an average of five times as much for a four year degree, colleges have pushed the dishonest agenda that everyone should have a college degree. The debt that I see young people graduating with is staggering and ridiculous. You know why you owe so much? Well for one approximately 1/4 to 1/3 of what you paid went to a fund for your college to offer their own scholarships. They call them need based scholarships, yet the majority of them go to college athletes, football players. If you paid for your own education and your school had a football team you paid for at least one of those players to also attend. Could you really afford that? Also in the last twenty to thirty years the pay of professors at state colleges has risen by staggering amounts. Here in Washington state a recent study of wage earners found that the top ten wage earners included six college professors. They were being paid in the millions. No government employee should make more than the president of the US.
            And I read that study that was recently released about earnings and learned an interesting fact. They apparently excluded high school graduates, without a college diploma, that attended any kind of post high school apprenticeship or job training school, including the military. Thereby excluding all of the well paying skilled jobs out there. Amazing. Must have been a college that funded the study. And I do possess a degree myself, but unlike my husband I didn’t spend four years in the military receiving training and then nine months in an apprenticeship program, so I don’t earn as much as he does. But I do love my job. At present our youngest son hss decided to join the military over college. After much studying on it, and speaking to recruiters at Microsoft and Google, he hsd learned that like you he csn go to college and graduate at about $130, 000 in debt, or he can go into the Navy attend their two year computer school, and serve for two years. At the end of which he will have the exact same education and no debt. Both Microsoft and Google told him that they employee people right out of the military at the same pay rate as the guys who finished college. In fact the Microsoft guy was a Navy graduate as well. He also encouraged our son to learn either Chinese, or Russian while he is in. As they’re looking for people with skills in those languages.

            And you’re right about high schools no longer providing the classes that and training that they once did. Sad.

          • mumsy64

            Shouldn’t have typed this on my phone, definitely doesn’t make me look like a college graduate. …..or does it.

          • Eastwestcoaster

            I understand the position you and your family are in. However, different things work for different people. The military route wouldn’t have worked for me due to some medical issues I have and I never wanted to become a technical person or anything else they would teach in the military,. They tried to recruit me out of high school and quite honestly at the time, I wasn’t interested because I wasn’t willing to fight for an agenda that I didn’t agree with during the previous president that shall not be named term. I have a master’s degree and that has propelled my career in where I work and my income. However I’m stuck in a rut due to income based repayment terms that are asking too much of a person. I like who I work for as well and I wouldn’t be where I’m at without a master’s in my field. I know that the money goes towards sports programs and other things that it shouldn’t. In a lot of states the highest paid state employee is a college head football or basketball coach. It’s backwards and has gotten out of control. When I started going to school the prices were more reasonable, then we had this astronomical shift in tuition as this article states while I was in college. Some succeed and work in the degree field they want, others don’t. I picked my degree field for a reason because I knew there were jobs to go to and I enjoy doing what I do over other things. In less than 5 years I think the gov. will realize what is happening in the long-run if they haven’t already because they already have seen the effects on the economy from my millennial generation with student loan debt. There have been some good changes in the past few years with student loans, but there still needs to be vast improvement or our economy will be tanked once again just like in 2008 when I graduated from undergrad, luckily I was accepted into a graduate program during that time and I was able to have a temporary position in my field in the gap between, but it was still very tough working jobs that I normally wouldn’t just to pay the bills, but that is the way life is right now for my generation and I think this article does a great job of illustrating that.

  • cynthia

    in 5 yrs put that instead