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College tuition is too high: cut the bloat, cut the cost

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andrewIt’s hard to believe I’ve almost finished my first year of medical school here at USA.

I’ve had the opportunity to learn anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, histology and a million other things over these past two semesters. I never knew I would actually be able to fit that much information inside my brain.

My only regret is it cost me $24,000 in tuition to do it. Every student here at USA and other universities across the country has had to face the harsh reality of rising college tuition.

We had an increase last year, and more than likely we will have an increase this year.

In times like these, the first question students should ask is, “Why are costs going up in the first place?”

To answer this, I’d first like to mention a few statistics. Between 1975 and 2005, the total spending on higher education tripled to $325 billion a year.

Medical education alone has grown 450 percent. During the same time period, the student to teacher ratio remained the same. However, the real growth was in administration and support staff. By 2005, there were 1.2 non-teaching employees per every one teacher.

The spending on administrative cost increased 235 percent while teaching cost only increased 128 percent.

Unfortunately, USA has not escaped this trend. A visit to the administrative department page on USA’s website shows a list of 53 departments. A visit to the academic department page yielded a list of 53 academic departments amongst the ten colleges that make up the university.

When you have such a bloated bureaucracy as to have one administrative department for every academic it’s no wonder the cost are high.

The medical school alone has 11 deans or assistant deans for a group of less than 300 medical students.

The second question to ask is, “Why doesn’t the University cut back?”

The simple answer is that those in charge simply don’t feel the need to stop leeching money from us and the feds. With grants and loan money backed by the US government, the administration sees no need to cut back wasteful growth.

Many experts are calling this the “Higher Education Bubble.”

The bad debt on college loans could become as much of a problem as the housing crash.

I, and many others, argue that if guaranteed federal funding was taken away and the market was allowed to dictate cost, college tuition would fall dramatically. In short, costs always go up when the federal government subsidizes something.

In medicine, the feds are now subsidizing electronic medical records. The result: bad EMRs that can cost over $50,000 for a small physician’s office.

The federal government financed Cash for Clunkers. The result: used car prices are at record highs.

The same trend can be seen for solar power and ethanol.

To conclude, I often ask myself if the education I received this year was worth the $24,000 I paid at 7.9 percent interest.

Besides the humbling experience of the gross anatomy lab, it’s extremely difficult to say that it was.

With the increase in technology and information on the Internet, everything I learned outside of lab I could have done for free.

This is the final question we should ask all ourselves.

When we have the ability to share a limitless amount of knowledge with each other across the internet, what is it that justifies the high cost?

Written by Andrew Scheider | Contributing Writer

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