Wednesday, November 13, 2019
This paper will address recent trajectories of college tuition, fees, and financial aid in order to assess the extent to which fiscal assistance has kept pace with increases in tuition. Agenda setting constructs will then be used to contexualize this relationship, as well as student loan debt in general, and to identify applications of this issue to macro level social work practice. Trends in Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid Among public four-year institutions, the average cost of tuition and fees has increased by 2.9 percent for the 2013-2014 academic year, rising to $8,893 for in-state students. This trend was mirrored among out-of-state public four-year institutions as well; tuition and fees increased by 3.1 percent from $12,887 to $13,310. With regard to private four-year universities, the average cost of tuition and fees increased by 3.8 percent, a difference of $1,105. Although it appears as though the momentum of tuition increases has continued, it is important to note that the ascension of published costs between the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 academic years is the lowest proportion in increase over the past 30 years. That is, tuition and fees are continuing to increase with each academic year, however the percentage by which they do so is actually decreasing (Baum & Ma, 2013). When assessing college affordability, it is important to not only understand trends in tuition costs, but it is also necess ary to differentiate between the published costs of schools and the net prices that full-time students actually pay throughout their enrollment. Tuition and fees might vary according to reciprocity agreements between adjacent states, duration of enrollment, and student aid disbursements; these are all factors which could impact th... ...tarian education policies that make college more affordable and accessible in order to promote a competitive labor market and cultivate a proficient workforce. Conclusion Although the inflation of tuition and fees among post secondary institutions has begun to subside, the trajectory of federal financial aid and grant assistance has become increasingly unable to compensate for this trend. Increases in tuition and, subsequently, student loan debt can be attributed to agenda setting initiatives that supplement revenue losses, but simultaneously marginalize many students and increase the inaccessibility of higher education. In effect, the byproducts of tuition increases underscore the importance of macro-level social work practice and its ability to critically reframe fiscal education policies that best promote the economic welfare of students and their communities.