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College Costs Keep Rising As Families Struggle to Pay

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 12:50 PM

#ds308 - Out of Luck


Parents of college students--and recent college graduates know firsthand--the price tag for a higher education keeps rising.

In their new series Paying for College, NPR is taking a look at how the average tuition cost went from affordable to sky-high, and all the avenues families are using to seek financial aid.

As Claudio Sanchez reports, there was a time when public funding played a big role in keeping college costs reasonable.  After World War II, veterans took full advantage of a new law that gave them federal dollars to go to college.

Sanchez writes:

The GI Bill was an unexpected success, [University of Kentucky professor John] Thelin says, enrolling just under 8 million veterans — 10 times the number the authors of the bill had predicted.

This sudden, enormous demand, Thelin adds, could have pushed college costs higher — but didn't, because states embraced the idea. The booming postwar economy allowed them to spend unprecedented sums of money to expand higher education.

But 2014 is a different economic time.  While Americans are still flocking to campus, states are no longer making the same unprecedented investment in higher education.

And that--coupled with a new emphasis on getting students to graduate--has pushed some states like Ohio to re-evaluate the way they fund higher education institutions, and dole out dollars based on the number of students completing courses and degrees, not the number who enroll.

Research is still mixed as to whether those efforts work in helping more students finish degrees, or whether they will affect the cost for students.

But some Ohio campuses are making other efforts to keep the cost from rising by offering a tuition guarantee for full time students.





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