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Rising cost of college education creates need for potential alternatives

Written By | Jun 9, 2014

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2014 — A recent study by Yconic/Abacus, commissioned by Canada’s Globe and Mail, revealed just how damaging the rising costs of education are becoming. Only 17 percent of Millennials are financially independent from their parents, while 43 percent of the oldest Millennials — 30 to 33-year-olds — are still not financially independent.

That young adults are struggling with student loan debt should not come as news. However, the depth of the impact may be unexpected.

The rising cost of college education has become so alarming that documentary filmmaker Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside The New York Times) has made it the focus of his new film, Ivory Tower. The film debuted to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival and will be released nationwide this summer.

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Sundance asked Rossi why college tuition has become so exorbitant. “I think there are a lot of factors that have combined to raise tuition rates since the 1970s, but I think the key paradigm shift that has resulted in this is the change in society’s view of education as public good to now being a private good,” he said.

In the film, Peter Thiel said, “Americans who weren’t getting college educations were once seen as the victims, but now students who do get educations are also the victims.” It’s a strong statement, but that’s the intent. The film and those in the film desire to provoke conversation about the topic.

Country-club style amenities and new, large facilities are the quickest and easiest to blame for rising tuition — but perhaps not the most important cause. The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell digs deeper to point the blame at politics. The burden of college tuition has been shifted from taxpayers to students by state legislators. Rampell, through a quote from a university president, defines that best. “Public colleges have gone from being “state-funded” to “state-supported” to now just “state-located.”

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Online education may be one solution to the high costs of tuition. Georgia Tech is now offering a master’s degree in computer science for $6,600. That same degree costs over $40,000 on-ground at the university.

Not all online education programs offer this kind of discount, but it’s a start. Andrew Rossi discusses a few possible online alternatives, interviewing those providing solutions.

Those looking to innovate in the space express the need for solutions to be made available immediately. ”It is paramount that we strive to lower the financial burden of higher education for both students and their families,” said Dean Florez, President and CEO of The Michelson Twenty Million Minds Foundation, a foundation started by Dr. Gary and Alya Michelson, that is dedicated to bringing higher education into the digital age.

“Finding a means to make these learning tools more accessible to students is more than just a good deed for an inquiring mind; it is an investment in our nation’s future and in innovation in general,” Mr. Florez continued.

Whether it’s through legislation, online education, or a combination of both, it’s clear that tuition costs need to change. If not, it will affect the buying power of future generations and directly impact the economy.


Jeff Barrett is an experienced columnist and digital public relations professional. He has been named Business Insider’s #1 Ad Executive on Twitter, a Forbes Top 50 Influencer In Social Media and has contributed to Technorati, Mashable and The Washington Times.