College prices are insane. This chart says it all:
There are a few theories on why are college tuition prices growing nearly four times the general inflation rate:
- Administrative staff bloat – administrative staff is growing six times the rate of tenured faculty positions.
- Supply and demand – there’s been a sharp rise in the percentage of Americans who go to college.
- Government funding cuts – state spending per student decreases means that out of pocket expenses go up. In my area, we see education property tax levies proposed annually to help bridge the gap.
I believe the college tuition inflation rate is unsustainable and that the college education industry is ripe for disruption by technology. Software is eating the world and I’m convinced that the university experience of the future will be very different from my own experience in dorm rooms, college libraries, lecture halls, and testing centers. Online courses and interactive video chat sessions will become the norm for a fraction of the price. Bulky textbooks will be replaced with tablets and laptops. Tests will be administered securely online. Of course, it will be hard to replicate a biology cadaver lab at home but there are many degrees that do not require anything more than a computer and an internet connection.
In fact, this shift is already underway. Check out this top ranked Online Masters of Computer Science program at Georgia Tech University with a total program cost of $6,630 — about a sixth of the cost of an on-campus degree at the University of Washington. This isn’t a cut rate University Phoenix degree. Rather, it is a fully accredited program at the 8th ranked computer science school in the nation. Don’t believe me? Check out this article. Honestly, I’m very tempted to pursue this program using my workplace tuition reimbursement benefit and complete the entire degree for no cost. Now I just need to figure out a way add eight more hours to my day to still allow time for work and family commitments.