Letter to the Editor: Online degrees create competition for colleges

Oct. 6, 2015

I find myself asking the question of what would I do if my college education was not paid for by someone else, and how would I be able to survive and support my family?

I say this because recently I have been reading a lot of articles in the large newspapers like Forbes, the New York Times, and many more about the inflation that has been rising when it comes to the amount students pay for college.  According to multiple sources, the average amount of inflation from 1985 till 2012 was 500 percent for college tuition.  I bring this up because I don’t know very many college students who have taken the time to save all the money it would take for them to pursue and receive their undergraduate degree.  Using the calculator that is on the University of Wisconsin Whitewater website, the lowest price it could cost a student a semester is on average $7,000, for a grand total of $56,000 for an undergraduate degree.

Colleges balancing budgets has been a problem for a long time, regardless if they are a private or public school, large or small.  One of the problems that I have read about is what to do with tenure professors at a college and what benefits should they get. 

At some schools tenured professors get more paid sabbaticals than non-tenured professors, which means they can take time off and receive full pay.  What this does is puts the school in a position of how to fill that professor’s spot teaching his/her classes, which forces them to hire more people.  This may not be as big of a problem at a small school that has very few tenured professors, but if you look at the larger universities, this number can be quite significant.

With the continuing problem of schools not being able to balance a budget and states cutting funding to colleges, the only course of action a school has is to raise tuition.  At what point does the school and people realize this has gotten out of hand, and people can’t afford to attend school for more education without going so far into debt that it does seem financially smart.  This is why online schools are starting to have an influx of students because they cost considerably less than attending a campus.

If larger schools don’t begin to find a way to balance their budgets and start lowering the price of an education, they are going to slowly lose more students every year to the online learning degrees.  This will happen because more students are going to have to work in order to afford school and everyday expenses.  Is the current student with a bachelor’s degree and $56,000 in debt in a better position than a high school graduate with a lower level job but no debt?  This is what the higher education institutions are going to have to figure out if they want to stay competitive.

Jason Schreiber

Politcal Science BS