About those college dreams, kids….
You want your kids to do well in school? Absolutely. You want them to graduate from high school? Yes, please. You want them to go to college? Slow down, there, money bags. If projections hold true, many of our kids could be priced out of college in the not-too-distant future.
On a page on their website titled, “What’s the average cost of college,” Vanguard Investments used data from the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing Report from 2014 and, “assum[ing] an average college-cost inflation rate of 6%,” gave us a glimpse of the costs parents might be facing over the next 5 to 18 years. Combining tuition, fees, and room and board, they estimate that in five years a public college could cost $23,350 a year and a year of private college could more than double that at $56,766. For those whose babies are going to be college-age in 18 years, that cost could go up to $54,070 for a year at a public college and $121,078 a year for private college.
This does two things: first, it makes some of us hope our kids will find a comfortable spot under one of the cleaner, more modern bridges to live under, and two, it makes us wonder what the heck a college education is going to mean when the vast majority of the country isn’t going to have the minimum of $200,000 a year to spend on it.
Today’s college costs are out of reach for a lot of people: for the 2016-2017 school year, the average in-state cost of a two-year college is $11, 580. That’s over $23,000 for a community college degree, folks. And forget about sending your kid to Harvard: this year the average private school cost is $45, 370. That’s insane. And if costs increase the way Vanguard projects them too, what will it mean for our country if a college education — still considered a basic requirement for many jobs — is only available to the super rich? One hopes that our educational system and job requirements would have to change, but it’s a scary thing to think about.
Vanguard recommends that parents start saving early (pre-utero would seem to be a good idea) and recommends lowering costs by having kids live at home, go to an in-state school, “reduce [their] entertainment spending,” and get a job or two. None of that sounds particularly unreasonable for today’s costs, but none of that is going to make $55,000 a year affordable 18 years from now. And if you have more than one kid? Good luck.
Instead of trying to help parents figure out how many mortgages they’re going to have to take out on their homes or how much of their retirement savings they’re going to need to use towards their kids’ education, maybe we should work on making college affordable (or even tuition-free) in the future. Rather than present these unreasonable costs to parents and asking us to figure it out, it’s more than time for us to put on the brakes and fix an education system that may soon leave most of our kids out in the cold.