This is related to Dude's thread, "The price is too high", but more narrowly focused. I would normally add to that thread but it would probably get buried . . .

I was going through an old box of high school/college stuff that was recently shipped across the country. Among the correspondences were several scholarship award letters from two state flagship universities. This was in the mid-1980's when minimum wage was $3.35/hour. The federal minimum wage is now $7.25/hour so a little more than double in three decades. The scholarships were full tuition for four years and back when "fees" were negligible or non-existent. They were offered to me and any other student in my state who graduated among the top of their class (2% for one and 4% for the other). Anyhow, the letters listed the then current tuition rate and pointed out that over four years, this tuition waiver was worth about $3,500. Incidentally, that total cost is a bit more than a thousand hours over four years at the then minimum wage (so roughly five hours a week).

In checking current costs for comparison, I discovered roughly $42,000 for one university and $47,000 for the other over four years. (Out of state tuition/fees were $107,000 and $141,000 respectively.) These numbers do not include, room/board, books, or travel expenses. Averaging the two universities' total in-state tuitions/fees and using today's minimum wage yield over six thousand hours over four years or roughly thirty hours a week.

In other words, back in my day in my state in the mid-1980's, a student would have been able to paid their own full-time in-state college tuition/fees if they could have set aside five hours a week of minimum wage pay. For simplicity's sake, I am ignoring income and social security taxes. A student today would need to set aside thirty hours per week of minimum wage pay just to pay tuitions/fees. Five hours is doable for many while thirty hours is impossible except for the extreme few.

My comparison above is actually a grossly understated illustration of the affordability problem at public universities as I don't want to segue into a discussion of the "living wage" problem. Suffice it to say that while the minimum wage has roughly doubled, the costs of living have far out-paced it.

Perhaps private universities may remain the bastion of the "haves" (plus the "have nots" to whom they wish to extend a hand), but surely public universities should be accessible without crushing debt?

Edited by Quantum2003 (04/22/18 12:18 PM)