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As Unimpressive pointed out, that's the cost of tuition. The total cost (tuition + state expenditures + fees + endowments) per student has roughly paced with inflation over the same time frame -- and in some cases, dramatically decreased. You have to dig a little deeper to see those numbers, but several states have done their own analysis. Here's one for California:


Seemingly nobody understands, or wants to understand this point.. College used to be an investment made by the working class in the youth paid for via taxes (state expenditures >> tuition), it's now flipped to an investment made by 18-year olds in their own careers (tuition >> state expenditures) -- Both approaches have their own merits, but focusing on cutting the cost of education misses the forest for the trees when those costs haven't increased over time.

This is very enlightening, although very counterintuitive.

So it looks like the cost of college is yet another burden the boomers have placed on our doorstep (and even more, the doorstep of those younger than me). I'm skeptical that saddling 18-year-olds with mounds of irrevocable debt has any merits to speak of, but am curious what argument could be made in that direction.

The premise at least is that if you hold kids responsible for their own educations, they'll choose careers and topics of study that lend to paying off that debt. If you let kids mess around in college for 4 years with no financial incentive, they might all study underwater basketweaving.

I don't buy that line of thinking at all, but some surely do.

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