Escalating tuition fees could push college out of reach

According to a new report by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, college tuition and fees have jumped 439 percent since 1982, outpacing the increase in family incomes by about three times. Eventually, the increased costs of education may put higher education out of reach for most Americans.

The findings of the biennial report indicate that, even after financial aid, a four-year private school formed a staggering 76 percent the median family's income last year, while a four-year public college formed 28 percent.

The report, which gave a failing grade in affordability to all states but one - California, which received a 'C' - noted: "College tuition continues to outpace family income and the price of other necessities, such as medical care, food and housing. The nation's colleges and universities have become less affordable for students and their families since the early 1990s."

According to the report, the rate of enrollment and completion for college is below other countries. The 34 percent of young American adults enrolled in college puts US behind Hungary, Belgium, Ireland, Poland, Greece and Korea - which ranked the highest, with 53 percent.

In the opinion of Howard Tuckman, dean of the Graduate Business School at Fordham University, college has managed to outpace every other expense, including health care, particularly because Americans are "brand shoppers" who feel an expensive education is a good education.

The soaring cost of college is on the political radar of President-elect Barack Obama. He has promised to create a new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth $4,000 in exchange for 100 hours of community service.