The rising cost of higher education makes a degree increasingly unaffordable. Families most affected by this trend are the working families of the lower and middle- income. Considering inflation, since 1975 cost to attend college has doubled. Wages, however, are not increasing to account for inflation putting a greater financial strain on parents who support their children through school (CPEC, 2008). North (2013) found cost between 1976 to 1996 increased 400% while need-based grants decreased. College remains a good investment given earning differences between those with and without college degrees; however, the rising cost trend is on the path to alienate students. Researchers at the California Postsecondary Education Commission (2008) compared costs with family incomes and discovered low to middle-income families carry a disproportionate burden. For example, "in 2005, a year at [the University of California] costs a low-income family 43 weeks of income" (p.1), while the wealthiest families spend only about one month 's income. The study did not mention middle-income families. These families are marginalized, earning too much to receive need-based funding yet not enough to afford the added expense of college. Hemelt and Marcotte (2011) in a study of the elasticity of demand for college enrollment based on tuition found that demand remains mostly inelastic. The research had limitations because it contained no indicator to determine which students were lost (whether by withdrawal or prospective students who did not enroll). Further noted, if unconcerned with political or social implications, tuition increases are a viable option to increase revenue.
Non-profit in nature, colleges must be concerned with the publ...
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...s a "constant social search" (Levin & Koski, 1998, p.13) for improvement.
The unbridled rise of costs to attend college is unacceptable for the public good. Cuts to state funding devastated the budgets of many schools, "these cuts led to steep tuition increases that threaten to put college out of reach for many students" (Mitchell & Leachman, 2015, p.1). The proposed plan encourages institutions to find solutions that work for their campuses. College remains essential as many of the nation 's employers require an educated Workforce (Mullin, 2011). The middle-income families and their students represent a large part of the nation 's economy; inaction can produce negative effects on the economy. The proposed plan internally strengthens and prepares institutions to serve the public good without regard whether state funding ever returns to former levels.
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