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With or without federal student loan forgiveness, colleges must tackle affordability crisis, experts say

With or without federal student loan forgiveness, colleges must tackle affordability crisis, experts say

CNBC

Jessica Dickler
August 9, 2022
The Biden administration has promised to make a decision on student loan forgiveness within weeks, or even days. And yet, college affordability will remain an issue for years to come, experts say.
Increasingly, high school students are rethinking the value of a four-year degree. Many now say it’s just not worth the sky-high cost.
“More and more people are asking ‘is college even worth it?’” said Jason Wingard, the president of Temple University and author of “The College Devaluation Crisis.”
“For 50 or 60 years, it was unquestionable; now, what we’re seeing is a flatline,” he added. “Higher education — for the first time — has to pivot in order to be relevant.”
The college system should be more responsive to rapidly evolving needs in the workplace to better position graduates for employment and career success, Wingard argued in his book.
Corporate hiring practices are starting to favor skills over credentials, he said. For higher education, “that means being more applied and not just theoretical.” (Some institutions have already slashed the academic programs that were once central to a liberal arts education.)
A college education is now the second-largest expense an individual is likely to make in a lifetime — right after purchasing a home.
But it wasn’t always that way.
Deep cuts in state funding for higher education have contributed to significant tuition increases and pushed more of the costs of college onto students, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research group based in Washington, D.C.
Schools are under continued pressure cut costs, admit more students who need less aid or raise tuition. This year, some colleges are hiking tuition as much as 5%, citing inflation and other concerns.
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