When coronavirus first upended higher education, many colleges put a freeze on tuition hikes as they weathered the pandemic. Now as these institutions try to get back to normal, the cost of attendance is bouncing back as well just as millions of Americans are questioning whether or not pursuing a degree is still worth the cost.
Earlier this month, Boston University announced that it would increase its undergraduate tuition by 4.25% — the largest increase the university has had in the last 14 years. Starting in the 2022-23 academic year, students will pay $79,760, including room and board.
Boston University’s tuition hike was steep, but it’s not the only college to raise fees for the upcoming school year. After a two-year freeze, tuition at all UMass schools will increase by 2.5% for the 2022-2023 academic year, in addition to 1.9% to 3.9% increases in fees for room and board. At Boston College, a 3.68% increase has brought the overall cost of attendance up to $80,296.
These tuition increases come as national inflation rates sit as high as they’ve been in decades. Boston University president Robert Brown cited inflation as a reason for the significant increase in rates at his university.
“This increase does not keep pace with the current national rate of inflation and cannot fully offset the increased costs of University operations or fund salary increases that would fully mitigate the effects of inflation on the families of faculty and staff,” he said in a letter to the Boston University community. “We are caught in an inflationary vise between the institutional pressures and the impact on our students and their families.”
Some colleges, like Harvard, have tried to keep their financial assistance in pace with the rising cost of attendance. Tuition will increase by 3% in the upcoming academic year, but the university has also said that any family earning below $75,000 will have all their needs met for tuition, room, or board and will receive a stipend for move-in costs.
Millions of people are putting themselves into debt in the pursuit of higher education, without a guarantee that the debt will be manageable upon graduation. When President Joe Biden proposed supporting legislation that would eliminate student loan debt in February 2021, we asked Boston.com readers how they felt about the possibility of debt cancellation in the face of rising costs for a degree. Readers were largely split, with some believing the policy to be “fundamentally unfair, unsustainable” while others were in support.
“The false promise of financial security once one has a degree … is causing a whole generation of people to feel like indentured servants,” said one reader.
Even with attempts by institutions to provide more financial aid, many young people nationwide are choosing to skip college altogether. A recent study by ECMC Group, an education attainment nonprofit, found that the likelihood of graduating high school students attending a four-year school sank from 71% to 51% in the past two years. Dissuaded by the high cost of attendance and ballooning student loan crisis, students are choosing instead to pursue shorter, more affordable pathways to a career.
College students in Massachusetts have made it known that the financial burden of college is becoming too much. A group of union workers at UMass Dartmouth wrote an open letter to UMass President Marty Meehan and Gov. Charlie Baker calling the tuition increase “unconscionable,” noting that “so many students and their families are experiencing unprecedented financial hardships.”
We want to know: Do you think college is still worth the cost? Are you currently paying for college for yourself or someone in your family? Are you considering getting a degree yourself or already made the decision to not pursue higher education?
Given the rising costs, inflation, and the current job market, do you think soon-to-be high school graduates are better off going to college or should they start working right now? Tell us your thoughts by filling out the survey below or emailing us at [email protected].