With the average price of college continuing to rise considerably faster than per capita income, Americans are increasingly concerned that soaring tuition costs and onerous loans will prevent qualified students from pursuing a college education, according to participants in a public forum on February 20th, presented by Public Agenda, the nonprofit, nonpartisan opinion research and citizen engagement organization, and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education at George Washington University.
Moderated by GW Professor Frank Sesno, "Does it Really Have to Cost So Much? A Forum on the Soaring Costs of Higher Education," brought together students and leaders in education and economic policy to explore college cost increases and proposals to address cost issues.
The forum is built on the findings of Public Agenda's study, "Squeeze Play: How Parents and the Public Look at Higher Education Today." The report and updates on the event are available at: http://www.publicagenda.org/higheredcostforum/
"We are on the verge of a huge crisis in our country because access to college is essentially the only chance to have a high quality of living and good income," William E. Kirwan, Chancellor of University System of Maryland, said. "If we don't do more in our country to provide access to higher education, we will create a two-tiered society and the opportunity for upward mobility will be eliminated for too many people."
Experts said that solutions would have to be multi-pronged, with greater government aid, college productivity gains, and family budgeting, but most were wary of government regulation.
"The fragmentation of higher education makes it hard," Pat Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education said. "It's going to take leadership from the federal government, which has been a minor player, and from the states, and from higher education. It's a rebalancing of the social contract. No solution is just public revenues, family budgeting, or college productivity gains. But, what's missing are the political champions."