I am very sorry if this is worded wrong. I've looked at the numbers myself and it astounding how much college has gone up in price even for commuters in a few decades. People didn't need these massive loans in the 60's or 70's. I am graduating in a year with a degree in Online Journalism and Media and spend over a grand a semester out of pocket AFTER loans and aid.

Many people think people like me are lazy because we need help to afford college. I have seen articles of people who work 70 hours in the summer and full time during school during full time classes; but that a lot. Some may not be able to handle that kind of stress especially if the major was like software engineering or IT Business.

Given this, are they right in what they AND by the numbers and how America has handled things, is college likely to be non-existent or for upper class people and rich in the future likely?

OK!! I am very sorry it got opinionated and personal in paragraph 2. I'm a worry wart who is here to learn about economics in what concerns me. Please just answer the big top question.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ When you said that people didn't need massive loans in the past, you must also consider the fact that loans were not as readily available then. Also, in the past, when college wasn't seen as necessary, those who couldn't outright afford it simply wouldn't go. I'm not saying that this explains a greater average amount of loans taken out, but they could be two factors. I think this is a good question and I wish I could offer more upvote $\endgroup$
    – DornerA
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 22:35
  • $\begingroup$ where will our future engneers and doctors come from if no one can afford college. Smart kids born into extreme poverty is now impossible for the almost to get out as said to decades ago where college was cheaper. $\endgroup$
    – Bruno1993
    Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ If universities start to gain so much profit then (in the long term) why won't there be a bunch of new universities started up to make slightly lower amounts of profit? (i.e. standard free-market thinking) $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 14:07

2 Answers 2


Hemelt and Marcotte wrote a paper studying the effect of rising costs on enrollment, and as it turns out, students who choose to pursue degrees have very inelastic demand; people are still going to university and they will keep doing so, despite these tuition hikes.

I think most students (myself included) have pretty imperfect information about the market, and they also forego a lot of searching because of the value of leisure. Most of their decision to go to school will be liquidity constraints and support from social/kinship ties. Liquidity isn't so much a concern nowadays, if parents really want their kids to go to school.

That said, there seems to be a shortage of manual/trade labor, such as in line work, which pays around 40$ an hour for starters (I think), but the population of laborers there are aging and due to retire. The job market could just be very sticky, and the demand shock for school caused by technology will slowly fall, causing tuition to fall with it. That's a bit more speculative though, and I'm not sure there's a lot of literature on rising tuition, on a very cursory glance.

  • $\begingroup$ I am worried that our future doctors, lawyers, business owners dentists, teacher etc. will not exist or there will be a VERY small number of them since they cannot afford college. Don't you think it's unfair college was so cheap decades ago you could work part time and not have debt? I am very worried...should we be? $\endgroup$
    – Bruno1993
    Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ If you read my answer, you'd figure I'm not very worried, because students have better access to borrowing. There are also community colleges and such that give much better financial aid. The reason why college has become more expensive for the most part is because the quality of education has risen. That's just normal. $\endgroup$
    – Kitsune Cavalry
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 17:26

Short answers first.

  1. There will NOT be less universities.

  2. If the high demand trend continues and the quantity of universities remains the same, the tuition will keep rising.

My advice is to take out loans instead of working overtime during your university years. You are likely to be working for a very low wage until you get your degree. If you instead spend your time trying to excel academically, after graduation your per hour earnings may be several times higher than your wage as a student. Take advantage of loan availability and low interest rates. Don't worry about what other people say. Let others graduate debt-free with chronic illnesses, psychological disorders, and on the bottom of their class. Of course they are going to be bitter because you are going to get more with less effort.


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