With the bill for college tuition continuing to increase faster than the rate of inflation with no end in sight, parents with kids in college today and those who face these expenses in the future are wondering just how they can afford it. For a parent, the idea of shelling out this kind of money at the expense of other priorities — including retirement savings — is tough to swallow, but it’s also very difficult to countenance your child taking on debt in the high five figures or six figures. So it ends up being a Hobson’s choice.
There may be a little relief on the horizon for students attending state schools, as the Wall Street Journal reports that states are spending more on public universities as tax receipts rise. That’s the good news; the bad news is, there is a lot of ground to make up after budgets were slashed for five consecutive years due to the fallout from the global financial crisis.
And although 32 states spent more in 2012 than 2013, those additional sums are modest — 10 states lifted higher education spending by 1 percent or less, according to a survey by Illinois State University. And who knows if those dollars will go to reducing tuition or at least keeping tuition increases down. State universities have deferred maintenance, so funds may go there, or to already bloated administrative salaries.
The lesson here for parents and students is that tuition increases may not be as high as they were in the next couple of years as they were in the past. But the days when higher education was a top priority for state lawmakers seem past and I’m betting that tuition will continue to increase faster than inflation, leaving parents and students holding the bag and footing large bills for years to come.