The High Cost of Higher Education

By now, we have all heard about the so-called (what most people know it as, but may not be the official name) Occupy movement. Occupy, in this sense, means for people to take control of and to stay in a place, usually illegally or with force, so people have been occupying streets and other public places to protest (act in some way to show their disapproval of) social and economic inequality (where people are not treated fairly or in the same way).  The protests began on September 17 in New York City and San Francisco.  Since then, similar protests have taken place in over 95 cities in 82 countries.

Many different groups of people are airing their grievances (telling others why they are unhappy).  Some of the protestors taking part in the protests, at least in the U.S., are young people who are either in college or who have recently graduated.  With unemployment rates (the percentage of people without jobs) high, recent graduates are finding it difficult to start their careers and to start paying back student loans (money borrowed from banks and other institutions to pay for school).  According to Time Magazine, in 1990, the unemployment rate for college graduates was around 5%.  Now it is approaching (getting close to) 10%.

In the U.S., the price of higher education (study at a college or university) has soared (gone up very much).  In 1992-1993, the average student loan amount was about $15,000 (adjusted or changed to 2010 dollars).  In 2010-2011, it is over $34,000.  Most student loan programs give students a six-month grace period (time when someone does not need to pay back money yet).  After that, they must begin repayment (paying money back), whether they have a job or not.  Of those students who began repayment in 2005, 41% became delinquent (behind in their payment) or defaulted (could not repay a loan at all) within five years.  If you consider that as a country, the U.S. has more student loan debt (money owed) than credit card debt, this may very well (very likely) be the next big credit crisis (a time of big problems because of money people have borrowed and can’t pay back).

Students are certainly not the only ones protesting in the Occupy movement and suffering in this economy, but are recent graduates facing these types of problems where you live?  Who are the people participating in the Occupy protests in other countries?

~ Lucy

Photo Credit:  Day 14 Occupy Wall Street September 30 2001 from Wikipedia

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31 Responses to The High Cost of Higher Education

  1. kuong do says:

    I am the first one giving comment for this newest post.

  2. lynette says:

    I have just checked the tuition for our college. It is around $6000 per semester. I think it is a reasonable price.

  3. Ukrainian says:

    In UKraine average amount for study is around 1000$ per semester. In compare with U.S it’s incredible amount!

  4. Hilario says:

    SPANISH PEOPLE OF MOVEMENT FIFTEEN OF MAY.- Here in Spain, this is the name of the citizen movement that brings together all the grievances of the Spanish people. Its name comes on and from the very day this year in which the main central square or main plaza in Madrid, Puerta del Sol, was occupied by a wide shaped human platform, faces and bodies of varied social and economic composition in its extraction. The fully peaceful demonstrators were showing their absolutely fed up feelings about politicians and bankers behaviour related to the problems that the recession has brought to people´s lives.

  5. Anya says:

    Hi, in most parts of Germany higher education like untiversities is for free. In the last few years politicians tried to change the system so you would have to pay 500 – 1000 € per semester, but most of the German federal states withdraw the new law during the elections for the federal states gouvernements. Paying for higher education is not very popular here. So now (I think) there are just two federal states left where you have to pay for university.
    We Germans like the idea that all kids have equal access to every kind of education, but our school system is one of the most segregating in the world and it’s difficult for children from families with migration-background or from poor families to make their way through the system. Every European or worlwide survey shows that in Germany your sucess in school depends on what your parents are… but because the school system is a task for the German federal states every state has his own system and there is not a lot of development.
    But you normally you reach PhD – stage without paying one Euro.
    PS: Thanks to the ESL-team! (Started with ESL-pod and English books in 2006 and I’m working in an European Project since 2008 and now I’m not longer freaking out when I have to write an e-mail! Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!

  6. Peter says:

    Tell me about it Lucy,
    I paid 3200 hundreds fit the current semester.
    I wasn’t granted the student loan.
    Because I couldn’t pay back my previous student load last time I was at university.
    Back in 2003-2007 during which I was studying at university here, I was under OSAP ( student loan here in Canada is called OSAP)
    Every year I was granted 9500 for everything including tuition fee. Exactly,six month after I graduated I was asked to pay 600 dollars per month.
    How on earth I could pay 600 hundred dollars while I was still unemployed.
    I started paying 200 per month after 8 month so I got bad credit.
    This time around,I was not granted any student loan.
    My dad is paying for the whole thing
    3200 or so just for Tution fees and it doesn’t include overpriced text books, print outs and power points
    For every print-out I pay 10 cents
    And for every class there are 30 pages power points at least.
    Trust me the cost of education Is so high that some people Opt for not pursuing it.
    I still owe a lot to the government
    Trust me,nowadays going to university is not worth it.

  7. Peter says:

    Oh,thanks Anya you backed me up on that.
    See ,my claim is true in Germany is free
    But ,Emiliano
    How about Spain ?
    I m wondering you must pay or what ?
    And Betty
    How about china or Hong conk
    I know china the university education is for free all the way up to pHd level.
    In England ,it is for free
    One of the most expensive one is Harvard in U.S.the overall education cost you close to 100000 dollars in Harvard university. I m telling you guys , way too steep.

  8. Betty says:

    Hi kuong do,

    Congratulations on becoming the first in giving comment for this post.

    I am curious how did you know your comment would be the first appearing?

    Our teachers do not upload our messages immediately when they receive them, so it is not possible for me to know whether someone else have posted before me. Well done anyway.

    You’d better go and buy a lottery ticket now.

    Just one thing, remember to donate some money to this website if you win a prize big enough for you to part with some of the winning money.

    Best wishes


  9. emiliano says:

    High Education is absolutely expensive for parents, students or the countries.
    Since the death of the dictator here in Spain it was easier to attend to the
    university wich ever studies the young wanted to do.
    The only rule to be admitted was to have enough high level to start a
    carrier or another.
    Sciences or Engineers were always quite difficult to be admitted in a Public
    University, the same as Medicine,
    If the young students have not enough level there was the possibility
    of enter in a private university, paying high rate to do that.
    It was funny that some private universities admitted worst students
    that were not admitted in the public ones.

    The tragedy now for this country is that the best prepared students
    are fleeing out the country because here there not good opportunities
    for them.
    We did not spend too much money in paying the university rates
    of our three daughters.
    Good students they hay always scholarships so we need only to
    complete the rate with a small amount of currency.
    Besides, my daughters started to work at the same time they
    were studying so it was even more easy for us their parents.

    None of them are now working using their previous university
    Laura after being Telecommunication Engineer started another
    different subject, Biology and now is just working in her new
    To me is necessary another kind of studies beside the
    university ones because here there are too many graduates
    that have not work either not hopes of finding one.
    It is absolutely a big tragedy.

    More then twenty thousand of graduates are now in Germany,
    Finland, England and so forth.
    Another several thousands are in Argentina, Brasil or another
    South America countries.
    The best nuns and doctors are in England.

    Millions of euros spent in young university studies and our
    best students are going out day after day.
    Well, sure I´ll do the same if I would be in their place.

    Another thousands of “Indignados” joined to several kind
    of other persons are in the middle of the square cities as
    the have nothing and hope nothing ahead of them.
    A hard world with so little hopes.

    The worst is that every where around the world is happening
    the same.
    I really think that future is in South Asia and China, may be
    also in Brazil, Argentina or India.
    USA and Europe is falling down every moment, they are not
    “Los Reyes del Mambo” any more it could must be
    some justice about the event, who knows?

  10. emiliano says:

    Sorry friends, writing fast only carries mistake after mistake.
    What an absolute disaster of orthography.
    Even more if I do not read what I have written previously.

    Possibly I think I know more English that the real truth.
    What an absolute pretentious you are emiliano.

    Sorry again.

  11. John says:

    Everyone should have a chance to get a good education. The Austrian government really supports that concept – the tuition fees are really peanuts compared to what you have to pay in the U.S.A.
    If you are socially disadvantaged, that is, if you or your parents earn less than a specific threshold, your tuition fees are like 17€, each semester, plus you can apply for a grant. If you or your parents
    earn more than the threshold, your tuition fees are like 360€ each semester – still peanuts (the lion’s share is being paid by the government/tax payers) American universities are more prestigious, their budget is much higher, but I guess in the end, it’s up to you, who has to decide if you want to learn something (in the deep) or not.

  12. Myo ko ko says:

    Heavy subject to talk about, Lucy.
    But I’d discuss about it only if you let me use all the available blog space here to write on. will you? 😀
    Just kidding.
    A timely post, Lucy. Thanks a lot.

  13. Peter says:

    Well done Lucy,
    I just read the post.
    My previous comments were based on the topic posted up there.
    Well, i am running a busy life juggling two part-time odd jobs and schooling.
    It leaves me with a little spare time that I happily allocate to listening to jeff, reading our blog,and above all studying your scripts for all the sentenc structures and punctuations.
    It is a shame, that sometimes I have no time to read the posts thoroughly.
    However, I read up on this one just now,because the title took my interest. Very well-written,indeed.
    As you know,there is the same problem in,we go to universities ,community ,and vocational colleges , hoping that we will get out of those education institutes with something in our hands more than the time of entering. We go through a long screening process before we get approved for any of those education bodies. Thoes of us who manage to step in at colleges delude ourselves into having a better life right after schooling period via building a career. Alas ,it is just an illusion.
    We go in the red hoping we go in the black in the near future.
    But,sadly the truth of the matter is we go in the red to go back to what we did before the university approval-that is, working odd hours at odd jobs.

    By now,

  14. Betty says:

    Thank you so much, Lucy, for raising our awareness of this “Occupy Movement”. I must admit I did not pay too much attention to it apart from hearing it (not trying to listen to it) from the radio while I was driving.

    In order to answer Lucy’s question: “Students are certainly not the only ones protesting in the Occupy movement and suffering in this economy, but are recent graduates facing these types of problems where you live? Who are the people participating in the Occupy protests in other countries?” I searched the internet for a long time and tried to thought for a long time how to put it in writing.

    This is a very difficult topic. Lucy you have given us a PhD topic to do. Are you supervising a PhD student who are doing a research about this movement?

    There are some copy cats “Occupy” movements in Hong Kong and China. Nevertheless, I have not heard much about them recently. There was some protesting in Hong Kong Central on 15th last month, but it did not attract much attention and did not create problem like the movement in New York City’s Wall Street and in London – London Stock Exchange and then the St Paul’s Cathedral.

    I would like to quote a piece of information about what happened in China from “”:

    “Looking closer at the Chinese protesters, one may note that they appear to be rather advanced in age compared to their counterparts in the USA. Indeed, according to China Hush, the Zhengzhou demonstrators “consisted of workers, cadres of state-owned enterprise and some retirees.” Not exactly the young, hip & trendy younger generation who are leading China into a new age with new ideas not lifted from Mao’s Little Red Book. More like a classic rent-a-protest.”

    In fact, if I am younger and still can run fast, I might like to pretend to be a protestor and join in to enjoy the excitement this movement might bring. Why not? Let out my anger of having no money in my pocket publicly, See and do everything before I kick the bucket. 😉

    Thank you again, Lucy, HARDtalk topic, but good for our brains.

  15. Betty says:

    Sorry, Error:

    Instead of saying: “I searched the internet for a long time and tried to thought for a long time how to put it in writing”.

    I should have said: “I searched the internet for a long time and thought for a long time how to put it in writing”.

  16. Betty says:

    You are cheating, Myo ko ko, not telling us what you think!

    Come on, don’t be mean, tell us what you think about this subject.

    Just kidding.

    Betty 🙂

  17. Betty says:

    This topic is hard and I nearly gave up answering Lucy’s question yesterday.

    This morning I remembered a motto from one of my primary school teachers who wrote on my motto book.

    He wrote (in Chinese, I shall try to translate it into English here):

    “Don’t be put off by a job that is too small and unimportant; don’t give up because the job is too difficult”.

    Thank you, teacher.

  18. learn chinese says:

    yes, like this man said. High Education is absolutely expensive for parents, students or the countries.
    Since the death of the dictator here in Spain it was easier to attend to the
    university wich ever studies the young wanted to do.
    The only rule to be admitted was to have enough high level to start a
    carrier or another.

  19. Elvis Johnny says:

    Betty, long time no see. Before leaving my comments here I want to make an apology to you, cause part of them might make you unhappy in some way.
    For my moeny, protest movement is kind of a serious topic that’s should be discussed cautiously and carefully, not something being talked casually
    These days, with higher unployment rate in United States, and plus they are treatd unfairly and unequally in society and economy, many of them came to fight for
    their rights of getting a better job and life.. As with an emotional and ethic citizen, we should pity for those suffering in bad economy slump rather than to tell lucy
    that we want to join in this grave politics just for fun and excitement, if it was the case, that would be so rude to the sufferer.

    It’s my bad to say some awkward words there, would you please forigive me ? My dear, Better, will you?

    With only last one doubt in my mind, How would you think $34,000 of student loan is a much hight burden to graduates,Lucy??I cannot figure out why.
    Does $34,000 of average student loan stand for the cost of highter education synchronous for the four-years university or just for only one year ???
    I googled some infos telling me that for American college students their average initial annual salary is around $50000 and
    I kind of recalled jeff who once posted a relevant blogs about the annual salary of first-year college graduates that’s similar to what I found in google..
    In China, if you’re getting into a public university, the total price for four-year schoolings is roughly from 20,000 yuan to 32,000 yuan ,
    and yet if you’re stepping in a private university ,the total tuition for the whole university is approximately 60,000 yuan —-80,000 yuan,
    wherever university you went to, the statistics showed us that the average annual salary is around 33000 in Shanhai, notice it is in only in Shanghai, other citys ia far low than this..

    There has over 4 billion peasants in China, most of family’s income is about 4000 yuan in one year, could you guys image how higher the amout of tuition it is ???
    That’s pretty real status quo in China..I’m really sympathy for my fellow folks.

  20. Jesús says:

    Here in my country, Colombia (South America), the students are protesting against the government due to a Law that is supposed to change the rules in the Educational System in our country. The good and amazing news about it is that the Colombian President was forced by the nonviolent protests all across the country to not present this Education Reform to the Congress. The students’ protests made the President change his mind!! Can you believe it?
    In the other hand, the education loans work almost the same as Lucy described in the article, and by the way I started my University thanks to an Official Program that works that way. I can say that it was great for me, and I already paid it back completely because I’m working in a good company that pays me a good salary.

    Thank you Lucy for this interesting article!!

  21. Tania says:

    Hi! I have seen on TV the Occupy movement in New York, in London… I agree with the protestors’ ideals.
    Thank you for this very interesting information on the next big credit crisis.

    I think that the phrase “I’m not sure what I’m destined to do” is valid for many of us. Especially when you are very young, an intelligent person aspiring to the high expectations…
    you even think that you will make a difference, you will change not the world but at least your life …and for sure you will be a lucky person.
    As we say “you will overturn the mountains”.
    But years are passing us by …no opportunity, no chance… And of course, I’m not sure what I’m destined to do but I want to follow my dream, my heart.
    And you dream, and dream and dream… You are right , Dr. Lucy. “Could we get back to work?”

    Best wishes,


  22. Betty says:

    Hi Elvis Johnny,

    Thank you for reading my post and for being so considerate. I enjoyed reading your comment about my post, and, no, I will not be unhappy at all. It is a very healthy constructive advice to me, after all.

    I hope I have not upset anyone who perchance read my silly little message. Lucy is the last person I want to upset. Hopefully she understands that I was always joking and was just trying to practice my English writing. It was not intended to cause any harm to anyone.

    Yes, you are absolutely right, Elvis Johnny, I should at least say something to show my sympathy to those people who turned up to protest in the occupy movement.

    On the other hand, I actually do not know enough to comment on this matter.

    Look forward to reading more of your post.

    All the best wishes to you.


  23. Betty says:

    I came across a new word this morning. It was “lucid”.

    At first I thought, no, this word is too difficult for me to remember.

    Well, look up the dictionary anyway to find out what it means.

    It says “Adj.1. lucid – (of language) transparently clear; easily understandable”.

    Now I remember someone wrote something about Lucy’s name before. Could it be about the word “lucid” as well?

    I think I will remember this word very well from now on.


    BTW, Dear Lucy, I could not believe it when I found that an article in my exam past paper was co-written by you.

    The article was published in Summer 1996, and it was entitled: “Bringing Books into the Classroom: First Steps in Turning College-Level ESL Students into Readers”. A very well written article, thank you.

  24. Betty says:

    Sorry, might be error:

    In my previous post, instead of saying: “I could not believe it when I found that an article in my exam past paper was co-written by you”.

    I should have said: ” I could not believe my eyes when I saw that an article in my exam past paper was co-written by you”.

    Perhaps it is acceptable to use both?

  25. meme says:

    I live in Middle East, in Palestine Gaza strip of hear about it, so our tuition in our University is not too high it’s depend on our college rules it’s rates between
    13-30 Jordan dinar bu hour so the full semester costs about 300-500 Jordan Dinar
    our economic situation is too we have approximately 90% unemployment, so families can;t pay for the tuition for their children
    in the past before the siege the college can give the student loan but now a day their no loan, so student can;t 4 the college and complete their education, if they did They have to pay the price. luckily in our private and public the a rules said that if have a sister or brother in 1 college u will get the immunity between 5%-10% and it’s depends on how many sis or broth in 1 college and
    there is a complete immunity forThe son of the martyr

    But in other Arabic country like UAE (United Arab Emirate) the tuition cost a lot in private university i think for 1 semester u have to pay 120000 Drham emaraty
    (440400 $) in some privete university and public university is just 4 native people and its free for poor people (native) but not cost much. As for the immigrant or emigrant have no place for them in their
    public university so they sign privet University

  26. emiliano says:

    Lucy = Lucía (in Spanish)
    The name comes from the Latin and it means Light.

    Here She is the Saint Patron of the blind people.
    It was the most popular name in Spain in the year 2006

    Saint Lucy enjoys very popularity in Scandinavian´s countries
    the feast is December 13rd and on that date begins the feasts
    of Christmas.
    The Saint could be so popular as her name´s meaning is
    light, so in these countries Sun Light is quite important, in
    fact since December 13rd the Sun lights begins to longer
    till the summer time.
    Lucid = Lucido (in Spanish is p.p. of the verb Lucir)
    Lucir as a verb, comes from the latin “lucere” that means …to give light
    The Sun gives light,……Luce el Sol, because it gives light to the world

    To be lucid also means “to have a clear transparent mind”
    to recover from unconsciousness but also to have incredible
    good reasons and clear thoughts.
    He or she is a lucid man.
    In psychiatry of or relating to a period of normality between periods of insane or irresponsible behaviour
    its said that the person has regained (recovered) his or her lucidity.

    Our dear teacher has one of the most beautiful names in English and in Spanish.
    In russian is Svetlana and in Frech is Lucie, but also in German could be Lucia..
    and so forth.

    It is possible you could read something like this once we were talking
    about names and Lucy´s name and its meaning was one of the
    subjects either.

  27. Elvis Johnny says:

    Betty, don’t worry about it, it happens to me all the time.
    you know, I’m just not quite familar with some kind of topics either at times.
    that explains a lot why we don’t write decent messages
    beyon that, could I ask you some questions here concerd with some of problems that I came across on my way of learning english, I cannot figure them out on my own.
    let’s say “Of those students who began repayment in 2005”,that’s some words quoted from Lucy’s article at the third paragraph, the end of third line to last.
    preposition “of” here, I’m not capable of getting its meaning thoroughly and precisely.

    meme, are you pretty certain you were not telling a false story ?
    90% unemployment rates in Palestine???
    and $440400 in some privete university for only one semester??
    oh, my gosh. I never thought of as the mountain of money as this..
    you really scared the heck out of me!!!
    you know, it was far beyond my expectation.
    oh, no, where and how am I able to get such plenty of wealth to afford the huge schoolings??

  28. emiliano says:

    Hi Betty,, you are really incredible.
    Again I am trapped by your cute knowledge.
    Yes, you know how to do it and you are absolutely

    All the morning thinking about your two phrases:

    “I could not believe it when I found that an article in my exam past paper was co-written by you”.

    (I could not believed it when I found that an article was co-written by you in my exam)….mine

    ” I could not believe my eyes when I saw that an article in my exam past paper was co-written by you”.

    (I could not believed my eyes when I saw that in my exam there was an article co-written by you)…mine
    Of course dear friend, the two are perfectly well written and absolutely understandable but as a
    challenge I would like to twist them and write the idea in other way.
    The last word is in the mind of the specialist linguist teacher, not in our skill.

    Nice play Betty, I like it absolutely.

    Greetings, emiliano

  29. Betty says:

    Hi Elvis Johnny,

    I am terrible at grammar. However, I wanted to find an answer to your question because it is important to me as well.

    Let’s start.

    Your question about the word “Of” in Lucy’s sentence “Of those students who began repayment in 2005, 41% became delinquent (behind in their payment) or defaulted (could not repay a loan at all) within five years”.

    Lucy was talking about those students who began repayment in 2005, she was not talking about any other students who began repayment in any other years.

    We can rephrase Lucy’s sentence as:

    41% of the students who had started their repayment in 2005 became delinquent or defaulted within five years.

    In the “”
    Someone said:
    ‘of’ means something like ‘among’ I’d say.
    Of all the friends I have = Among all the friends I have

    So we can also rephrase Lucy’s sentence as: “Among those students who began repayment in 2005, 41% became delinquent or defaulted within five years”.

    In ””’s wiki/English_in_Use” you will find “Prepositions, Conjunctions, and Interjections” in which it says:

    Of—Out from; proceeding from; belonging to; relating to; concerning; about; belonging to; connected with; indicating origin, source, descent, possession or ownership, relation of subject to attribute, material, part, source of a purpose or action, distance in space or time, identity or equivalence, agent, or passage from one state to another.

    Some more reading for you if you have time:

    In “” someone asked a question: “Can I start a sentence with “Of”?”

    Someone answered:
    “What you are listing are dependent clauses that begin with a conjunction.

    The typical word order would be:
    “conjunction and its clause,” “main clause.”

    Using the dependent clause to start the sentence gives variety to writing and sustains interest. It’s boring to read too many plain declarative simple sentences in a row, but variation in sentence structure brightens up reading.

    On the other hand, too frequent a use of this device is tiresome”.

    And, an sample sentence was given as: “Of all the levels I have mastered while gaming, this one is the most exciting.”

    The littlest word is the hardest word.

    Thank you for helping me learn more every day.

    Betty 🙂

  30. Jesús says:


    Excellent explanation!! I enjoyed and learnt by reading it.
    Are you an English teacher??

    Best regards

  31. meggiehoo says:

    Acctually, in China, it looks like nothing happened.
    Tell me, if you worry about the Occupy? I mean if you think it make your life different and no longer quiet like before?

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