As Tuition Costs Spike, Earnings For Americans With Degrees Falls


Skyrocketing costs and declining value. This is the problem with higher education in a nutshell:

This is why an increasing number of people are seeing the wisdom in saying no to college:

Even the staunchest critics of college concede that a diploma is still necessary for many professions — law and medicine, clearly, and in many cases, for a Fortune 500 executive, too. But that’s the point: how many more lawyers and middle managers do we need?

“College is training for managerial work, and the economy doesn’t need that many managers,” said Michael Ellsberg, the author of “The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won’t Learn In College About How to Be Successful.”

Mr. Ellsberg, 35, graduated from Brown University and spent years trying to translate his expertise in post-colonial critical theory into a paying career. So his book tries to impart real-world skills, like salesmanship and networking, which he argues are crucial as white-collar jobs are being downsized or shipped to Bangalore. The future, he added, belongs to job creators, even if the only job they create is their own.

“I’m not saying you have to be Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs,” Mr. Ellsberg said. “I know people with dog-walking businesses who make six figures.”

Higher ed officials like to wax poetic about the importance of a liberal arts education. North Dakota Higher Ed Chancellor Hamid Shirvani recently penned a lengthy and romantic defense of his industry for the state’s newspapers in advance of a legislative session in which higher ed issues are going to be central.

But Shirvani’s arguments seem to be coming from some alternate reality when we look at the practical realities of what college costs, and what the benefits are for students.

College is an increasingly bad deal for most students, and government subsidies for universities and student loans has only exacerbated the problem.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

Related posts

  • igx

    The cost is just way, way, way too high. That’s the problem. If it was in line with inflation for the last 30 years this wouldn’t be such a big deal.

    • kevindf

      Big education is a monopoly.

  • WOOF

    Graduates earnings may be down,
    but corporate earnings are way up.

    “Runnin’ to-and-fro – hard workin’ at the mill.
    Never failed in the mail yet, come a rotten bill!”

    • kevindf

      It’s cheaper to have robots do the work; they don’t slack off.

    • Rob

      Corporate earnings are up?

      Not really. As a share of GDP, revenues from taxes on corporate earnings in America (including foreign earnings brought into America) are down:

      Corporate income tax receipts as a share of gross domestic product have been on a downward trend since 1952, although they have increased slightly since 2009.

      But this really has nothing to do with the higher ed bubble. That’s directly attributable to government policies subsidizing and promoting higher education. Just like in the housing market, we’ve created a bubble.

      • WOOF

        You’re right, corporations are not paying enough taxes. They have concentrated efforts on lobbying to shift tax burdens. Result-Deficits.

        • Rob

          Tax avoidance has everything to do with taxes that are unreasonable. We have more government then we need, and when businesses flee the tax burden you blame them.

          That’s very ignorant of you.

  • Tim Heise

    North Dakota exports oil, sugar, and college students!

  • Ryderwriter

    So what’s the remedy?

    • Rob

      Stop treating higher ed like an entitlement. Privatize student loans, and allow private lenders to say no to borrowers who aren’t likely to be able to pay back their loans.

      Between direct subsidies of public universities, and public subsidies of student loans in general, we’ve allowed universities to prioritize quantity over quality. That has lead us to this bubble

      • dakotacyr

        What an asinine statement. If we were to privatize school loans, a bank would never lend to a student, they haven’t established a credit score or a credit history. No one would be able to go to college unless they were rich. But then again, you don’t think anyone needs a college education since you didn’t get one and probably couldn’t get one.

        • RCND

          If that really happened as you claim, there are other ways for someone who really wants to go to college to attend. They may have to wait a few years to start and it may take them longer to complete, but your statement that no one could attend unless they are rich is far from accurate.

        • Rob

          That’s the problem with you socialists. You believe that if the government doesn’t do something it won’t be done at all.

          Of course private lenders would make the loans. They’d just be more selective which is exactly what we need.

          What has decades of the policies you support gotten us? Skyrocketing cost and diminishing value. Yet you’d have us do more of the same.

  • Energydrinks

    However valid a point you may have, there is no price that you can put on the experience of a college education. An education is a great investment in yourself as a PERSON, but it is very expensive. The unfortunate part is that once you have dug yourself into the higher education debt hole, you might as well keep digging. A lot of students, including myself, are faced with two options: keep going with school and debt to graduate, or dropping out and not really having anything to show for it besides debt. Please keep in mind that North Dakota schools are very cheap in comparison to other institutions around the country.

  • fredlave

    When I was in the Navy, lo these many years ago, we received BAQ (Basic Allowance for Quarters) if we were forced to live off-base in non-Government housing. Coincidentally, every time the BAQ was raised there was an concomitant increase in the rent sailors and their families were charged. This mirrors the effect of student loan availability and increases of tuition (and fees). It’s also no coincidence that university faculty and administration heavily favored Obama and Democrats with contributions and with ideological support. Stop the growth of student loans and tuition costs will stabilize and higher education will learn to live within our, the taxpayers, means.