Donald Heller, the director for the Center for the Study of Higher Education, has been studying college affordability and presented the following slide.


It is obvious this divergence is unsustainable.  On its current path most graduates will effectively become indentured servants.  This leads to two questions.  When will the system change?  And how will it change?

As a parent of three children, I know the great lengths parents are willing to go through for their children.  This leads me to believe that the existing system and cost growth will continue much longer than it should.  If you have middle school or high school children, the current system will almost certainly still be in place.  Going out 10 to 20 years, I see a much higher chance of great change occuring.

As to what that change will look like, I’m much less sure.  Some possibilities that come to mind are:

  • The Bachelor’s degree will cease to be the gatekeeping credential for white collar jobs.
  • Distance education will become the dominant delivery vehicle
  • Public colleges and universities become tuition free like public grade schools
  • Colleges figure out how to get their costs under control.  Since close to 70% of a college’s costs are staff related, univeral healthcare would be a large boon in this direction and tenure probably needs to be revisited.