Students who gripe about rising tuition costs across the county may have a valid concern, according to findings from a study released this month.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s annual “Education at a Glance” report, which studies the education systems of countries across the world, showed it costs a U.S. student between $116,000 and $117,000 to pursue a college degree, including direct costs and a calculation of possible wages lost while in school.
The U.S. is the second highest among the surveyed countries in terms of overall cost, behind the United Kingdom at about $122,000.
The study also showed 29 percent of Americans will get a higher level of education than their parents. The U.S. is third to last among the 26 countries surveyed for the category.
The report said 17 percent of parents in the U.S. haven’t received a secondary degree, such as a bachelor’s degree, as compared to the international average of 33 percent.
However, the report said that payoff for a college degree is higher in the U.S. than in most countries.
Pilar Mendoza, an assistant professor in the College of Education, said she wasn’t surprised by the study’s findings. She called the study a “reality check” for the government.
“Unless the government does something to eliminate poverty, we will see an increase in the gap between the haves and have-nots,” she said. “It is true that the United States is ahead in terms of educated people, but if this trend continues, I think the United States will start losing that.”
Mendoza said rising tuition costs and uncertain postgraduation job opportunities are primary reasons young people don’t go to college today.
McKinley Carden, a 21-year-old elementary education junior, agreed. She said she tutored students at low-income schools and saw the effects of a failed education system firsthand. Once, she said, a third grader couldn’t read to her a Dr. Seuss book.
“Tuition goes up each year, and it’s not like education is stressed enough in this country,” she said. “The government needs to be more involved in the education system.”
UF spokesman Steve Orlando said UF is trying to correct these problems through access and affordability for students.
More than $500 million in financial aid is disbursed at UF annually, Orlando said.
“Yes, we’ve had to increase tuition, but we’re still very affordable compared to our peers,” he said.
Orlando said $17,000 is the average amount UF students pay back in loans after graduation, compared to the $25,000 national average. He said about 66 percent of graduates leave UF with no loan debt.