Gerri Willis: The High Cost Of Education, Is It Worth It?

Gerri Willis: The High Cost Of Education, Is It Worth It?

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Is college worth it? Education is one of the most expensive purchases you'll ever make. But are you getting a fair return for your dollar?

Gerri Willis from The Willis Report on FOX Business is here to break down the numbers.

  • An education is four times as expensive as it was 30 years ago.
  • Some experts say a more accurate value is $300,000 and others say $500,000.
  • Over the past 30 years tuition costs have risen 1,120 percent while healthcare has gone up just 600 percent and housing has risen 375 percent.
  • It's no surprise then that total student debt tops $1 trillion dollars, and that the average grad enters the workforce (if he's lucky), with $25,000 in debt.
  • Today's fulltime college students on average report spending just 27 hours per week on academic activities – less time than a typical high school students spends at school. Average time studying fell from 25 hours per week in 1961 to 20 hours per week in 1981 and 13 hours per week in 2003. Only one in five fulltime college students report devoting more than 20 hours per week on studying.
  • And instruction? Forget about it. Despite the wave of federal funding, recent government reports show that the percentage of full-time instructional faculty in degree granting institutions declined from 78 percent in 1970 t0 52 percent in 2005. On average, faculty spend just 11 hours per week on advising and teaching college students. Only 40 percent of college students are taught by tenured or tenure-track instructors.
  • So where are the billions of dollars in rising tuition fees ultimately backed by taxpayer dollars going? Education experts say finer gyms, sushi bars and climbing walls suck up an ever increasing amount of higher ed dollars. Richard Vedder, who directs the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and teaches economics at Ohio University, describes the situation as an "academic arms race" with schools spending more and more on infrastructure to attract more students who much spend more money to afford the nicer digs. Says, Vedder, "Even classroom buildings have to have atriums – if not, it's downscale. "
  • Another pricey accoutrement are luxury dorms – suites, private bathrooms or baths for no more than four people." He describes one Ivy league dorm as having  35-foot ceilings in the dining room with triple-leaded glass windows. The cost of this nirvana? 120 million cost or $350,000 for each of the 350 beds in the building. "It's crazy," says Vedder. There are even schools that do laundry for their students or offer valet service for students who need to get to class ASAP. The Harvard campus that Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw floated through in the movie Love Story couldn't hold a candle to what's happening on school campus today. Even the non-Ivies are forced to compete.
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