Denver Gazette: The promise of college has fallen flat

Jul 23, 2021

If you live and work in Colorado, America’s eighth-most expensive state to live in, you typically need a college degree to get by. Seventy-four percent of all jobs here require it.


Colorado is also one of the most expensive to get that degree. Tuition and fees have far outpaced inflation. Since 2002, the cost for in-state students has risen over 240%. Inflation has grown only 50%. Meanwhile, student loan debt has grown from $345 billion in 2004 to $1.7 trillion today — a roughly 400% spike.


Higher education is in crisis. Countless Coloradans are in a precarious position.


So, why has the cost of college skyrocketed? Our state has chosen to spend fewer and fewer taxpayer dollars on postsecondary schools. Meanwhile, a lot more is spent outside the classroom on things like administrators and fancy, expensive buildings. Consider: as of February, University of Northern Colorado has a $260 million deferred maintenance backlog for which UNC plans to push the cost to students using student capital fees. CU-Boulder has seen administrative costs grow by over $2,700 per student since 2010, ranking a mediocre 28th out of 50 state flagships in terms of spending least-per-student on administration. Tuition and required fees at Boulder represent 17.3% of state median household income as of 2018-19.

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