What is the historical background as to why college is so expensive in the United States?
Keep in mind that I am not a historian so this is just my opinion but I would say that the cost of attending college has always outpaced the cost of living and inflation. Over the years the gap has become wider due to tuition increases as colleges compete with each other to attract better students. By better, I'm referring to students with higher GPAs and SAT scores. A few examples:
- Colleges have been investing more money in their facilities including bigger and better dorms and larger classrooms. In addition, they have been putting money into amenities to make the campus more appealing to students such as landscaping, fitness centers, gyms, etc.
- Colleges have also been increasing the salaries of tenured professors and other staff members for competitive reasons as well. This cost gets passed onto the students via higher tuition.
- Colleges know that their rankings in U.S. News as well as other publications weigh heavily on a student's decision on whether or not to attend their school so the colleges will do what is necessary to boost their rankings. This includes spending more money which again gets passed onto the students.
- State colleges have seen their funding from state governments cut as the legislatures try to balance the budgets. This shortfall gets passed onto the students.
Again these are just my opinions so you may want to do some research to see if you can find data to support my arguments.