How will the debt for tuition affect student access to and success in higher education? Unless sufficient need-based financial aid is provided, low-income students and historically under represented ethnic groups may be excluded. College graduates earn, on average, far more than college dropouts. But our colleges and universities are now graduating only slightly more than half the students who walk through their doors. Much of the cost of dropping out is by individual students, who may have accumulated large debts in their unsuccessful pursuit of a degree and who forfeit the higher earnings that come with a bachelor’s degree. Even if students and their parents are able and willing to pay higher tuition, some institutions and state policy makers facing fiscal pressures are preparing to cap or even reduce enrollments, despite growing enrollment demands.
Earning a college degree increases earnings, the earnings for male college graduates are 60% higher than the earnings for high school graduates. Wages for jobs requiring high school or less, declined over the last two decades in contrast to increases for jobs requiring four-year degrees. Even with higher tuitions, higher education pays but the problem is that many students are not finishing college. “By the age of 33, the typical college graduate has earned enough to compensate for both paying full tuition and fee charges at the average public four-year college, and forgoing…