The Chronicle of Higher Education: Public anxiety over college costs is at an all-time high. And low-income college graduates or those burdened by student-loan debt are questioning the value of their degrees, or saying the cost of college has delayed other life decisions....
Indeed, the general public is fairly shouting its concern about college costs in a companion survey of 2,142 Americans, ages 18 and older, by the Pew Research Center. Three-quarters of those polled said college was out of reach for most people. Twenty-five years ago, six in 10 Americans felt that way, according to a survey by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
The squeeze is real. College costs have been on the rise, increasing 50 percent over the last decade, Mr. Shi said. By contrast, family incomes actually fell between 2000 and 2009. Ask young adults why they're not enrolled in college or don't have a bachelor's degree, and the overwhelming response in the Pew survey: money....
The belief that college has become prohibitively expensive is shared across class and race lines, among Americans of all income levels, by those who went to college and those who didn't—by everyone, it seems, except college presidents.
Forty-two percent of university leaders, in fact, say most Americans are able to pay for a college degree, according to the Pew Research Center/Chronicle survey.
Why is there such a divergence of opinion between presidents and the public? For one, there's a certain amount of variance among college leaders, with those who typically serve low-income students more concerned about sticker shock. Nearly two-thirds of community-college presidents, for instance, called tuition unmanageable.
Some educators blame the gap on the failure of college officials to make the case about the whys of higher-education pricing. Students and parents, they argue, have a poor understanding of such practices as tuition discounting and don't fully appreciate the costs that go into a college degree, expenses that include faculty salaries and health insurance, remedial-writing labs, even climbing walls. "If they want to buy a Mercedes-Benz," said Stephen J. Trachtenberg, a former president of George Washington University, "we need to say why it costs more than a cheaper vehicle."