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Why college/university is so expensive in the USA

  1. Sep 24, 2011 #1


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    Staff: Mentor

    Here's one reason:

    Dorms go extreme to lure students (cnn.com)

    Exactly forty years ago this fall, my first dorm room as a freshman was about 15x8 feet, shared with another student. Along one wall were our desks, clothes closets and dressers/mirrors. Along the other wall were two single beds which doubled as sofas, with backrests along the wall. We pulled the beds out at night, and pushed them back towards the wall during the day. The bathroom was down the hall, and the washing machines were in the basement.

    Neither of us had a TV or even a stereo. No refrigerator.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2011 #2
    Your experience 40 years ago was exactly my experience 2 years ago during first year when I lived with a roommate. It was still expensive.
  4. Sep 24, 2011 #3
    My daughter has a private bedroom, bath, kitchen, den and living room. All meals and transportation. I have no idea how she pays for it.
  5. Sep 24, 2011 #4
    I'm surprised that anyone lives in the dorms considering that they are more expensive than an apartment with a roomate. Plus you probably have to obey the University rules or something I imagine. I've never lived in one personally. A few years ago my ex-girlfriends cousin came to live with us for about a month while she got settled at a university where we lived. She could have stayed with us for free, but all of her friends were staying in the dorms!
  6. Sep 24, 2011 #5


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    You had BACKRESTS? And a washing machine in the SAME BUILDING? I would have been jealous. Other than those, mine was identical.
  7. Sep 24, 2011 #6
    It's factored into the overall tuition.

    But, I never lived in dorms and that takes away from tuition expenses. But it'd be a $10k difference which someone could use to live in $1200k/month loft right in the heart of the city and more spacious, etc... Kids are obviously being swindled.
  8. Sep 24, 2011 #7
    Definitely cheaper to live off campus, plus you can retain your rights as an adult (which might be good or bad). I tend to think that the dorms are places where students parents can send their kids away for college and have some sort of peace of mind that there will be alcohol restrictions and curfews. Not that this is always the case.
  9. Sep 24, 2011 #8


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    Depends on the college, it's not always cheaper to live off campus. Plus AFAIK many colleges have rules requiring that all freshmen (and sometimes sophomores as well) have to live on campus.
  10. Sep 24, 2011 #9
    I posted this fantastic article before. Give it a read. It goes beyond expensive country club type dorms. What funds those projects anyway? Where there is money to be made you can bet your butt wall street is there fixing the game to make as much money as possible, education is no exception.


    I really wish law makers or the justice department would investigate universities to see what they are investing in. I highly suspect that universities invest a ton of money in student loans derivatives. Imo, it is a sickening display of greed and conflict of interest when universities have strong incentives to raise tuitions as much as possible in order to make as much money off a student as possible- once through tuition and fees and another profit off of a student's debt through investments in student loan derivatives. The fact that universities continue to raise prices at exorbitant rates of inflation is absolutely absurd especially as new grads face the worst recession and job market since the great depression coupled with the fact that middle class incomes have actually fallen since the 70s when adjusted for inflation. Unemployment rates for people aged 18-35 is absolutely staggering and well above the constantly quoted national unemployment rates. Kids these days are increasingly being asked to take on oppressive amounts of debt and for what? Terrible job prospects and 30 years of debt? Higher education in the US is on course for collapse, the bubble is only going to last for so long
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2011
  11. Sep 24, 2011 #10


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    just out of curiosity...
    For people who are planning to go to grad school in the US hoping to have better job prospects, would you say stop?
  12. Sep 24, 2011 #11
    As with everything , it depends. The miller mccune article on the big glut of science PhDs and their increasingly dim job prospects in academia has been talked about throughly here:

    http://www.miller-mccune.com/science/the-real-science-gap-16191/ [Broken]

    Give it a read. It is a definite must. I'm not going to sit here and say that you shouldn't go to grad shool when I'm here myself. Sometimes I really question why I'm here though. I could either be underemployed in a temp job currently making $35k (that's after 6 years experience) and still be paying off my student loans or be completely unemployed. The other option was for me to go to grad school and live off a $28k per year stipend and go to school for free. I chose the latter, after all it is only a $7 k per year difference. As for when I get out I really don't think the job prospects will be any better with my PhD. Biotech is absolutely horrendous. What else am I going to do currently though? Sit at my parents' house all day everyday unemployed? I'm literally in grad shool right now mostly just to pass the time. It's either that or live out on the streets doing nothing and probably getting ino trouble.

    To summarize, I'm really not in grad school to improve my job prospects right now. I'm just trying to do something productive while the whole country continues to fall apart. I'm also here because I have access to health care for the next four to six years, which is something you don't get or hardly get with a never ending string of temp jobs.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  13. Sep 24, 2011 #12


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    Staff: Mentor

    Still lives at home, eh? :tongue2:
  14. Sep 24, 2011 #13


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    a very nice article, thanks.

    personally I'm not interested in working in academia in the first place, but I'm planning on putting 70K (2 year, assuming i can't get any fellowships) for a master's degree hoping for intern opportunities for getting into industry leading companies.
    I have been having second thoughts as this is a hell lot of money to gamble on
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  15. Sep 24, 2011 #14
    You'll find tons of disagreement with me on here, but I personally believe without a doubt that you shouldn't pay for any degree whatsoever past a bachelor's. I would not take that kind of money out for a master's degree no matter what school it was from. You may luck out and find a job that would pay a viable wage to support that kind of debt, but there are no guarantees anymore, no matter what your level of education is. Also, there's no guarantee on how long such a job would last. Like you said, it is a gamble.

    Most science MS without any experience tend to make what per year? Roughly in the $50-70k range?

    Taking out $70k for a loan would be like purchasing a high end BMW. Would you buy a pricey BMW on an income like that? Probably not.
  16. Sep 25, 2011 #15


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    In fact I agree, there are just too many if's for all the investment to be worthwhile
  17. Sep 25, 2011 #16
    I don't think that a U. S. college education IS all that expensive! I believe that there are some 4,500 four-year colleges in the U. S.. Many of these have quite low costs, costs that are comparable to those you would incur if you simply lived away from home. Moreover, they can give you an excellent education--unless you are an irredeemable snob.

    At least one college, Berea College, is free! Yes, free--tuition, room, board, books, and all. And academically, it's quite respectable.

    I think that there is entirely too much emphasis on getting into the "better" schools (I'm an University of Michigan alumnus, myself and taught at Duke before retirement). When push comes to shove, it's what you are that counts--not where you went to school.
  18. Sep 25, 2011 #17


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    Even after not considering dorms, tuition alone has skyrocketed. The tuition at my modest and low ranking undergrad university is over 900 dollars a credit hour.
  19. Sep 25, 2011 #18
    UofM makes me sick with how much money they have. I just can't understand why anyone would go to such a university. I go to a uni about 100mi away from UofM, pay a fraction of the tuition, live in a single bedroom apartment by myself for half their dorm room costs, and I'm pretty sure I'm getting a better education on top of it. At least all of my professors speak english.

    Conclusion: College/universities are so expensive in the USA because people are stupid.
  20. Sep 25, 2011 #19


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    u of michigan?
  21. Sep 25, 2011 #20

    Agreed. There is a demand for those prestige universities when it doesn't really matter where you get your degree from. People are so dumb and so focused on attending a school of prestige that they dive themselves in a sea of debt.

    In my university, there is SO many people that enrolled this year. The tuition got higher, and most of these first years don't even know what they want to do in their lives.
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