College students paying more, earning less over their lifetimes

Oct 9, 2012, 11:31 AM | Updated: 12:40 pm
While the state used to pay for about 2/3 of college costs and students were responsible for about ...
While the state used to pay for about 2/3 of college costs and students were responsible for about 1/3, those roles have now reversed. (Graph: Washington State Budget and Policy Center)
(Graph: Washington State Budget and Policy Center)

The cost of a four year degree at the University of Washington has more than tripled in the last decade, as the state continues to cut the budget for higher education.

A report from the Washington State Budget and Policy Center shows that in 2000, the state paid for about 72 percent of the cost of a higher education at public colleges and universities. That number has dropped to just 35 percent this year.

“That has had a huge impact on middle class families here in Washington State,” says the center’s Mike Mitchell.

Students who had been paying about 28 percent of the cost of tuition and fees in 2000, would now be responsible for 65 percent of the expense. A University of Washington bachelor’s degree that had cost about $16,000 would now be about $50,000. That figure does not include books or housing.

College graduates will have a harder time paying off their student loan bills, as well. Mitchell says not only is it tough to find a full time job in this recession, but the jobs that do exist pay less than they did a few years ago. In addition, young adults who enter the job market in a down economy will earn less over their lifetimes.

“As they move on through their careers the opportunities that they have just aren’t comparable to what may have been available in a stronger economy.”

The Budget and Policy Center is recommending an increased investment in higher education and programs that support young adults.

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College students paying more, earning less over their lifetimes