Paying for College

Crazy College Costs

Have you ever seen the movie Network? It's from 1976 and stars Faye Dunaway, William Holden, and Peter Finch. It's about a A TV network that cynically exploits a deranged ex-TV anchor's ravings and revelations. Marvelous film directed by Sidney Lumet.

Maybe you've heard anchor man Howard Beale's (above) famous speech, where he says, in part:

I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth; banks are going bust; shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter; punks are running wild in the street, and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it.

We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. And we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be!

We all know things are bad -- worse than bad -- they're crazy . . .

Remember now, this is from a movie in 1976, almost a quarter century ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

You're wondering, "What does Howard Beale have to do with college admissions?" Well, if you're a high school senior applying to college, your parents might do well to heed the main point of Howard's impassioned speech:

. . . It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we're living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, "Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials, and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone."

Well, I'm not going to leave you alone.

I want you to get mad!

I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot. I don't want you to write to your Congressman, because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street.

All I know is that first, you've got to get mad . . .

. . . So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!!"

Okay! What, then, are we going to get mad as hell about and not take anymore? The relentless rising cost of college! That's what!

Our friends at have some excellent ideas about what you and your parents can do about the almost staggering cost of going to college.

The Rising Cost of Education

One thing that can be realized after checking out this year's list of most expensive colleges is that the price of higher education is getting ridiculous. This might be an obvious statement to some, but the fact that some colleges are now costing over $50,000 per year to attend is crazy.

Something needs to be done though, before this gets even further out of hand. It's only going to get worse at this rate, as tuition hikes continue to outpace median household income year after year. This alone is a big reason student borrowing has doubled in the past decade.

The increase in tuition rates will only get worse in the current state of our economy as budgets are continuously cut and endowments shrink, colleges will help recover these funds by further raising tuition. It will be interesting to see what the rate increases will be for the upcoming year given the state of the economy.

Colleges have always been dedicated to providing education for all, regardless of economic background. This is why you see so many schools advertising themselves as admitting on a need-blind basis. Yes, in these tough times, there are colleges that are putting in better financial aid packages for lower-income students, but the problem is with middle-class families.

Many are caught in the middle-class trap where they make too much money to be eligible for financial aid, but have little or no money themselves to cover the rising cost in education. It is important that these students are able to attend college, especially as our nation as a whole is falling behind education-wise compared to other nations around the world.

The cost of going to college is getting so high it may lead people to start questioning the investment of a college education. Is it worth spending the $200,000 to get that 4-year degree from a top college?

What to do about it

While this problem is pretty much out of the students' hands, students can keep the price tag of college down by attending an in-state school, which are on average about $10,000 cheaper. Many students across the country are transferring away from expensive colleges, to attend more affordable colleges. Its almost as if the current state in the price of higher education is forcing many to go to a local community college first, not only to save money, but because that is all they can afford.

With the extreme price of tuition, it may be time we start question the non-profit status of many universities. Colleges should use up more of their endowments to help keep the cost for students at a reasonable price. Increasing the availability of student loans is not the answer to this situation.

So, Moms and Dads, remember Howard's cry:


"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!!"


Don't forget to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.