College Tuition Has Increased 1,135% Since 1978

Student protesters

If you track any cost increase over the course of several decades you’re going to get a large percentage increase. Prices inflate. So hearing that college tuition has increased 1,135% since 1978 might not immediately seem alarming, until you put that cost increase side-by-side with other costs in the economy.

And then you begin to see that the higher education bubble is very, very real:

Higher Ed Inflation-thumb-525x397

“The historic funding model for higher ed is close to unsustainable,” incoming Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon tells the New York Times. “We can’t continue superinflationary tuition increases.”

It’s worth mentioning that the only reason they’ve been able to keep up “superinflationary” tuition increases as long as they have, turning campuses into centers of opulence and making higher education bureaucrats very rich, is the government subsidizing student loans.

Left to it’s own devices, the market for higher education would have long ago began to diminish in the face of these price increases. The cost would have simply deterred students from going to college. But our lawmakers, at the urging of the higher ed industry which stood to make a windfall, turned student loans into an entitlement. You can get a student loan with very little in the way of qualifications, and then promptly turn that money over to a university which is happy to accept it until you either drop out or emerge with a degree in hand that may or may not be worth what you paid for it.

And somewhere along the way, the higher ed folks figured out that the more students they crammed through their campuses, at ever increasing tuition rates, the more money they could rake in. They get paid up front, after all, while debt accumulation is the student’s problem.

Now we’ve inflated tuition to meteoric heights, while the value of a degree has shrunk, and student loan debt is the fastest-growing area of credit delinquency in the nation.

There is a day of reckoning coming for higher education.

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.

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  • RandyBoBandy

    Well it’s a good thing that North Dakota universities are relatively cheap.

    • Kevin Flanagan

      They are cheap relative to other obscenely expensive universities?

      • WOOF

        They are cheap cause the ND supports them.

        • The Whistler

          And the more we support them the fast the schools jack up tuition. It’s pretty obvious that our increased tax support isn’t going to help the kids.

        • Kevin Flanagan

          That must be the reason my state income taxes are five times more than my federal income taxes.

    • The Whistler

      The clowns at NDSU are doing their best to catch up. And a large part of these tuition increases goes to pay for free tuition to students from out of state.

  • HideFromObama

    I see a resurgency of the trade disciplines. 1 year or 2 year degrees/certificates that allow a person to come out and be making $25-30/hr + and upward from there quickly at 20 yrs old instead of a 4 (or 5) year degree to come out and make $20/hr and go up at a slower rate? The trade degree certainly pays itself off a lot faster. Is it better long term? Well, money now is worth more than money later, and you can always finish a 4 yr degree if you really want or have to later in life.

    • Dan

      Went to school for 6 months, 30 years ago, and was making $17/hour (in 1984). Today, I make $60/hour. The lie that ya have to have a 2 or 4 year degee (or more) to make a living is just that – a lie.

  • WOOF

    Student loans are not an entitlement.

    • Rob

      They are when you’re guaranteed to get one.

      • WOOF

        You have to pay off those loans , not an entitlement, not “free” money. A loan with more restrictive covenants than usual. Unable to discharge them through bankruptcy and debtors Soc Sec can be attached.

  • SigFan

    And if you measure value for price the hyper-inflated cost of higher education looks like even less of a good investment. But we have to have an army of indoctrinated drones for the left to advance their ideology – and they are doing a bang-up job of it so far.