The Instigator
yukonhenry
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Con (against)
Winning
13 Points

The High Tuition Rates of Universities in the United States are Unjustifiable

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Danielle
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/20/2012 Category: Education
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,105 times Debate No: 27387
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (3)

 

yukonhenry

Pro

I am going to start right away. Use the comment section for clarification of any kind if clarification is needed. My oppponent should prove that the rates are justified and I will prove that they are not justified.

I think that anyone who has gone to college within the past five years, is presently going to college or who is considering colleges right now will understand where I am coming from. The average cost of tuition for public institutions rose 42% between 2000 and 2011 and private institutions saw a rise of 35% in the same period(1). Right now the average cost of tuition and fees at a private institution (note I am talking about not for profit insitutions) is $28,500(2). This does not even factor in living expenses, meaning room and board, meal plans and such.
Now lets go back some thirty or so years to the eighties. The average tuition in the 1980-81 school year at all institutions was about $3,100(1).

So basically, my issue is with what causes this extreme price hike between 1980 and now. Let's think about what paying for college really means. Who goes to college? People who want to learn something they didn't know before, in order to get a better or different career, or to just know more things in general. College and universities are the links that young people have to what we as a species have accomplished up until now. Universities serve to educate students about what they missed before they were born. Feel free to argue against that as well, perhaps that is wrong.

However, based on the idea that univeristies serve as the database of human accomplishment then the cost of college means that the people who access the "database" are paying to know the accomplishments of the human race. To learn what we as a species have figured out thus far. Therefore, the primary group of people who will be paying for college are those who do not know all that the species has accomplished, primarily because we are simply too young to know it and haven't learned it yet. Ideally we shouldn't pay for college at all, but I understand that someone has to pay and that there is a cost to college itself. I am not arguing that. What I am arguing is that the price is overbearingly high.

If you expect me, as a person who is 19 and clearly does not know everything our species has accomplished, place myself in $100,000 worth of debt just to CATCH UP you are out of your mind. (Just to be clear, I am in college and I am paying that price). Is that not inhibitory to people who cannot afford the price and still want to catch up on what the species knows? Granted, there are scholarships and financial aid available. But scholarships and financial aid only allow the prices to keep rising. As a society should we ask our young to take on a huge financial burden for the sole reason that they are young?

Basically, college tuition rates are entrance fees that young people must pay to catch up on what the species knows. I know that there must be tuition for college to operate effectively, but when does that price get too high? I am saying that the price is too high now. Having endowments of more than $30 billion (3), like Harvard does, is unjustified for a not for profit institution.

(1) http://nces.ed.gov...
(2) http://www.collegedata.com...
(3) http://daily.swarthmore.edu...
Danielle

Con

Value is subjective. I might think a Starbucks peppermint mocha latte is worth $5, and my opponent might not. To me, the cost might be justified; my opponent might think differently - it depends on our values and what utility we think the product provides either to us as individuals, or to the community/globe as part of a larger transaction. In this debate, I will explain why the tuition rate of college is on the rise, and why that's justifiable to people (in general).

First, let's take a look at supply and demand. I think we all know that if something is in high supply and low demand, the cost will be lower, and if something is in low supply but high demand, the cost will be higher. Henry suggests we look at the tuition hike between 1980 and now. In 1980, only 17% of the American population over 25 had earned a degree [2]. Today, 40% of people 25-34 (not including people over 34!) have earned a degree [3]. That's more than double, and doesn't even count a significant portion of the population. Moreover, postbaccalaureate enrollment has risen about 80% between 1985 and now [4]. With such a growing demand and a supply that is simply not on pace, price hikes can be expected.

Next, we should consider why so many more people are seeking a degree than in the past. In addition to a shift in the job market, we also need to acknowledge that politicians (and society) have encouraged this notion that everyone deserves and should have access to a college education. The government has made it significantly easier for people to obtain loans and other funding for college, private, federal or otherwise. As such, colleges know they can increase the cost of tuition and not have to worry about inhibiting demand. Even if people can't afford to pay for it, they know the government will assist them either directly (FAFSA, loans, etc.) or via legislation that makes it easier to obtain loans from private banks. If everyone had to figure out a way to pay for college themselves, tuition would go down to facilitate competition and remain a lucrative investment for students.

On that note, my opponent suggests that attending college is about accessing the "database" of knowledge regarding the accomplishments of the human race. I beg to differ. Everyone has different aspirations and goals for their college experience, but overall attendance is about an investment in your career. Learning is super awesome, but in an age of information, ignorance is a choice and we do not need to attend a 4 year higher learning institution in order to expand our knowledge. I've learned more from engaging on this website than I have in my 4 years in college. We have access to the internet, books, and an institutionalized education at least until grade 12. Some people don't learn anything in college at all.

What college provides (and one reason why the cost is so high) is a piece of paper upon completion of a certain amount of time/credits that demonstrates you have successfully finished a curriculum that some employers feel make you more qualified to hold certain positions. If I want to be a doctor, does it matter that I cannot recite Shakespearean sonnets? No, even though knowing those sonnets might make me more cultured and well-read. I can learn those sonnets on my own. What people want to know is that if I intend on being a doctor, that I was trained in a particular area of study and demonstrated a certain level of competence in a particular field. That's essentially the purpose of college, technically speaking (and the life lessons, bong rips, chugging funnels, etc. is just a bonus).

Another thing to note is that like employers, colleges are now competing for talent. Terry Hartle of the American Council on Education notes, "Now we're competing in a global economy, so if you want to get the best scientists, the best engineers, you're literally competing with universities and employers from around the globe." Professors are not always people in Education, but experienced professionals who lend their expertise to universities... for a price. Depending on the skill and value of their staff, universities have to compensate their educators accordingly. It's about which school will offer the best teachers the most lucrative monetary incentives, and students will have to pay for that.

I'd also like to point out that tuition is not by any means limited to covering the expense of attending class. For one thing, most colleges provide health insurance plans to their students - and we all know how expensive health insurance can be. They also provide counseling services, tutoring services, career opportunity services, advisers of all kinds (academic and otherwise) and more. In addition, colleges now compete by bragging about their state-of-the-art recreational facilities and other amenities, such as innumerable WiFi hot spots, access to computer labs and all of the technology within (not to mention the employees who help run those labs and make repairs), gourmet food and dining services, and more! Colleges also pay for landscaping, have massive bills for electricity, water and other necessities, janitorial services, and basically a massive staff. As the size and population of colleges increase, so do the number of people that have to be employed to accommodate that growth. Colleges keep expanding.

It's imperative to take into account while we consider paying for all of these goods and services that we cannot compare dollar for dollar the cost of tuition in the past vs. the cost today. In addition to the factors I have already mentioned, inflation is a given.

A few closing points...

For high-knowledge careers that require an extensive education (doctors, lawyers, businessmen, scientists, etc.), it makes sense to invest in college. The return they will get in salary will make it favorable on a cost-benefit analysis compared with not attending college and choosing a low-skill job instead, which won't pay as much. Therefore, for many people the cost of college is justified. Postsecondary education opens the door to higher-paying jobs that are not available to people with fewer skills [5].

Finally, perhaps the tuition hike is not as mind boggling as my opponent implies. Even as sticker prices climb, student aid has gone up dramatically. For students in private schools, the aid increases just about cancel out tuition increases of the past five years [6]. We also need to consider that people's income has also increased (as a whole) since the 1980s, going back to the inflation point. The most important factor to note here is that despite what I think or my opponent thinks, it's what overall consumers (attendees) think about the cost of tuition. Apparently with all factors considered: the return on investment, the luxuries and amenities, the value of a collegiate education and the college experience in general make the tuition cost worthwhile. As such, it is justified.

To re-cap...

1. College is in high demand while the supply remains limited
2. Government backs access to college, so tuition hikes don't inhibit demand
3. Universities have to compete for talent to make their college more reputable
4. The cost of amenities and other services is high; tuition covers more than your time in class
5. Inflation dramatizes the cost
6. The return on investment for attending college still makes it a worthwhile endeavor for many

[1] http://www.forbes.com...
[2] http://education.stateuniversity.com...
[3] http://finance.yahoo.com...
[4] http://nces.ed.gov...
[5] http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com...
[6] http://www.npr.org...
Debate Round No. 1
yukonhenry

Pro

yukonhenry forfeited this round.
Danielle

Con

Extend my arguments.
Debate Round No. 2
yukonhenry

Pro

yukonhenry forfeited this round.
Danielle

Con

Extend my arguments.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by natashacoopier 3 years ago
natashacoopier
Danielle has presented some excellent points regarding hike in tuition fees of schools and colleges. During 1980's, we don't have computer labs, large number of faculties and staffs, heavy amount of electric and water bill. Moreover many high schools are providing extra classes for SAT prep, then there are also remedy classes. This all reason makes sense in price hike.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Muted 4 years ago
Muted
yukonhenryDanielleTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: The high forfeit rates of yukonhenry is unjustifiable.
Vote Placed by tulle 4 years ago
tulle
yukonhenryDanielleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF. Con refuted Pro's points and presented good arguments, and Pro didn't have a chance for rebuttal.
Vote Placed by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
yukonhenryDanielleTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Con wrote a lot of stuff and didn't forfeit, so yeah.