The Rising Cost of Education

Seventy one thousand six hundred and sixty… dollars.


That’s the new  price tag of a Trinity College education.  As it stands, it is the most expensive college tuition in the state and the first Connecticut college to surpass the $70,000 threshold. While announcement of the tuition hike caused a lot of heads to turn, Trinity representatives explain the rising cost of education is following the rising cost of educating, and they aren’t the only ones facing this issue. In New England, Wesleyan, Amherst College and Dartmouth are all close to the $70k mark. Nationally, Columbia University, Vassar College, Harvey Mudd and the University of Chicago charge just as much, if not more than Trinity for their base tuition and fees.


Trinity College Vice President, Angel Perez, described the challenge of running a high-performing higher education institute while also dealing with the rising costs of operations, and housing demand, as well as providing the highest quality of faculty possible to its students:  “It’s like running a small city, 24-hours a day.”


What else is there to do?


While increasing tuition to meet cost demand appears to be most straightforward way to address the costs associated with educating our future leaders and workforce, one institution has gone about using a drastically different approach. In 2013, Purdue University announced a seven year tuition freeze for its in-state students in the hopes of attracting and boosting enrollment. This approach, being far more risky, has faced criticism from naysayers who see it as a marketing gimmick that will cause a severe cutback in services and ultimately result in a steeper tuition hike down the road.  Five years into the widely publicized  experiment  Purdue seems to have largely avoided the anticipated repercussions of the tuition freeze.


“It’s like running a small city, 24-hours a day.”
Budgeting can be far more complicated than a spreadsheet populated with revenues and costs, especially when you weight your priorities, your goals, your return on investments and the like.


In response, higher education is taking on new and innovative forms, many of which are a dramatic departure from what we would have thought of in that context.  As an example, a recent Wall Street Journal article described how some companies are looking to younger workers with well-developed computer or similar technical skills, finding that focusing on their in-house training pays off.


The challenges and resolutions discussed above are consistent with our experience.  Recently, we’ve seen trends emerge in education that will continue to have an affect on how we educate and train our future workforce. One example of a non-traditional approach to education we’ve seen emerge is high school graduates receiving intense training over a few months in specific computer skills and who, upon completion of the course, are hired by high tech firms at starting salaries above $60,000.  These trends are building momentum, and we believe they will pick up additional velocity in the coming years, presenting educational institutions with both challenges and opportunities.


How do you envision the future of higher education?


“These are complex issues, but higher education must survive; it’s a public good.”
– Angel Perez, Vice President, Trinity College