Everyone who lives, breathes, and thinks
knows that the cost of college or university education has
increased geometrically over the last 30 years or so. The
reasons for these rapidly increasing costs associated with
obtaining a college or university education vary and probably
are the fault of both the educational system as well as the
state, to some degree. However, the reasons for the increase
are a moot point since if one wants an education then whatever
the costs are, they must be borne. One positive outcome within
all this financial chaos caused by skyrocketing tuition and
textbook sticker price is that educational alternatives are
developing as a consequence and these are offering the student
options that previously were not available.
So what are the costs increases in higher
education in America? Well, 20 years ago the average community
college cost approximately $320-$450 per semester or quarter
which translates into approximately $640 to $900 in tuition
per school year.
Books probably averaged between $20 and
$30 and up to around $60 for some science and mathematics
textbooks. Currently, Kim Clark writes in the U.S. News &
World Report that students should expect to pay $90,000 for
a four year degree completed in five years at an in-state,
public institution. Translated, this means that the student
can plan on $18,000 per year with approximately $8 to $12
thousand of that going for tuition and books. And textbooks
have really begun to eat up a larger percentage of student
expenses. While some classes such as English and humanities
courses, offer myriad low price alternatives to expense textbooks,
other courses, such as those in the hard sciences, can cost
well into the hundreds of dollars. For example, a recent web
search revealed that some medical school textbooks have topped
$400 with Vaccines by Stanley A. Plotkin costing $407.99.
Clearly this example is the extreme but it illustrates the
massive across the board cost increases not only related to
textbooks but to all expenses associated with higher education.
Many of the alternatives that have evolved
as a consequence to these spiraling costs in higher education
have been increasingly technology related and specifically
associated with online education. A great many higher education
alternatives have been introduced over the years that primarily
concentrate on the online format and which, by virtue of their
educational delivery model, allow students to work fulltime
while attending college. This assures the student not only
of maintaining their income levels but also the quality of
life that they would prefer.
Some of these virtual universities are Cappella
and the University of Phoenix but even traditionally formatted
higher education institutions are pursuing online formats.
Since most traditional colleges and universities have introduced
online solutions for some programs, this allows them to scale
the educational delivery over a greater number of individuals
serving to keep costs down since one instructor can now teach
100 students instead of just 20 or 30. Traditional universities
such as Nova Southeastern in Florida now offer many graduate
degrees completely online with the exception of annual colloquial
meetings held on its main campus.
Additionally, the technology platforms that
are being developed to support online education also offer
cost-benefit advantages for traditionally formatted education
programs because of their ability to reduce operating costs.
For example, textbooks and reading material that would have
been printed previously can now be distributed via email as
a PDF document at little cost other than the licensing fee.
Also, on campus services such as extensive research facilities
can also be reduced because much if not most of this material
is now available online. It is alternatives such as the online
education delivery format and its associated technologies
that is acting to curb the increasing costs of higher education
and one in which the number of students availing themselves
of this educational format and associated solutions, may soon
outnumber the students tripping over themselves in their rush
to get to classes in the traditional setting.