College is no longer what it used to be. As a result, incoming college freshmen will be dealing with a different collegiate experience than their predecessors, according to education experts like Victor Restis. Here are five ways the college experience is changing:
College is becoming more expensive every year.
The rising cost of tuition is a huge factor in the college experience. Every year, colleges adjust their costs to match inflation. While federal student aid increases have made it somewhat easier for less-affluent families to afford college, room and board costs have far outpaced inflation since 2000.
The College Board states that over the past ten years, average published prices for in-state tuition and fees at four-year public colleges have increased by 28 percent beyond inflation.
Less financial aid from the government.
In May 2012, President Obama signed an updated version of the Higher Education Act after months of debate. In doing so, he made some major changes to student loan programs that shifted more responsibility to borrowers than the federal government. Unfortunately, the new law also slashes funding to federal Pell Grants over ten years – a program that provides need-based grants to eligible undergraduate students – disadvantaging those who rely on it the most. It’s estimated that 70% of Pell Grant recipients come from families with household incomes below $40k.
College sports are becoming increasingly commercialized.
College sports is big business. In fact, in 2010, the NCAA signed a $10.8 billion contract with CBS and Turner Broadcasting to broadcast March Madness for an additional 14 years. While most of that money will be earmarked toward scholarships and other initiatives designed to help college athletes earn their degrees, some argue it’s unfair to pay student-athletes in cash or scholarship dollars when many non-athlete students struggle to cover the costs of attending school. Furthermore, paying players would put colleges at risk of losing their tax exemptions as nonprofit organizations under U.S. tax law, which would open them up to significant new taxes. At least one state (Connecticut) has already moved forward on this issue; last year, Governor Dannel Malloy signed a law prohibiting public and private colleges from offering athletic scholarships.
Easier admittance for lower-income students.
As more federal funding has been directed toward increasing college access – particularly among minority groups – institutions have increasingly employed “no-loan” financial aid programs, which promise to meet 100% of a student’s demonstrated need through grants and work-study awards instead of loans. While this is a boon for low-income families, it also results in situations where high school grads who don’t plan on pursuing an advanced degree are accepted into college just because they can pay the bill without taking out loans. In addition, this move away from the previous policy of only accepting well-qualified students has sparked controversy as some argue it’s unfair to deny students with higher scores who want to attend a school because there are less qualified students already enrolled.
No more campus exclusivity.
In the past, college campuses offered an environment where drinking and partying were confined to certain spaces and times – like fraternity houses or football games – allowing underage drinking to take place away from the watchful eyes of authorities. But as colleges have expanded their role in student “wellness” – attempting to address everything from binge drinking and eating disorders to mental health issues – more rules and regulations (like stricter alcohol laws and 24-hour supervision designed to encourage healthy habits among students ) governing all aspects of the college experience have been implemented.