The expense of an American degree is among the highest in the world, and things appear to be getting worse. Globally, higher education is under the yoke of a pandemic financial depression, and present US inflation has raised costs for products and services.
With an inflation rate of 8.5 percent, institutions and colleges across the country have now given in to rising costs by raising tuition prices after holding the line throughout the pandemic. According to Inside Higher Ed, university fees in the United States are presently facing steep increases not seen since the 2008 global recession.
“By far, my most immediate concern is the impact of inflation on faculty and staff, our students, and the university,” Boston University president Robert A. Brown wrote in an email to employees on May 6, 2022. The email stated that undergraduate tuition at the university will have to be increased by 4.25 percent for the forthcoming academic year, the highest rise in 14 years. Nonetheless, the move is not sufficient to reduce increasing staffing and operational costs.
“I am also aware that our raises and inflation have an impact on our pupils and their families.” “We are trapped in an inflationary vise due to institutional demands and the impact on our students and their families,” he continued.
According to University Business, several universities have followed suit by boosting tuition prices, including Seattle University (3.75 percent), Syracuse University (4.5 percent), Oregon Tech (7 percent), and Arizona State University (up by 3.5 percent).
Despite its attractiveness as a study abroad destination, American tertiary education has been in danger at home. Enrollment rates fell by 5.1 percent nationwide from the start of the pandemic to autumn 2021, amounting to a loss of 937,500 students as many chose to work instead of study owing to the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fewer students mean less money, and without the billion-dollar endowments enjoyed by elite institutions, community colleges bear the pain of empty classrooms. In the last few years, two-year institutions have lost roughly 15% of their students. If the trend continues, it may impede educational mobility in the long run, as community colleges are frequently entry points to higher education for low-income families and minority groups.
To put things in context, the US student debt issue has hit an all-time high of 1.7 trillion dollars, with total tuition prices increasing by 180 percent between 1980 and 2019-20. Although public higher institutions are less expensive than private ones, austerity measures and changing state funding as a result of fluctuating market conditions result in tuition increases to cover the expenditures.
In the next years, the cost of pursuing the American dream may be too high for international students. Aside from paying much higher out-of-state tuition, overseas students need to budget for additional charges to cover living expenses during their studies.
As per a 2018 HSBC survey, overseas students spend an average of US$99,417 throughout their education in the United States. As global higher education grapples with inflationary demands, the figure is certain to rise.
“Honestly,” said Phil Weiler, vice president of marketing and communications at Washington State University (WSU), “I think inflation is just compounding the issues we’re facing.” Due to a 2017 state statute, WSU has been able to limit and cap tuition price increases for in-state students, but not for students in other categories.
“We have nonresident undergraduates, resident graduate students, non-resident graduate students, and international students, among others.” “The university has the flexibility to raise fees on all of those other kinds of students,” Weiler pointed out.
Inflation in the United States adds $296 to the average American household’s monthly budget. Higher education experts believe that rising expenses will be felt more acutely by some than by others. Indian students, who make up the second-largest cohort of overseas students in the United States, would be particularly badly hit by price increases.
“Unlike in China, students from India are price-sensitive and very susceptible to price fluctuations, such as increases in tuition fees, interest rate fluctuations, and inflationary pressures,” Janet Ilieva, founder of Education Insight, was quoted in Times Higher Education as stating.
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