By Dr. Mark Friske
Faculty Member, Dr. Wallace E. Boston School of Business
Due to recent inflation, it’s easy to look around and see the changes in our economy. The current rate of inflation is the highest we have seen in over 40 years.
Sadly, almost everything we see has been affected by inflation. We all feel the effects of inflation in our own personal budgets, and we now have to make some tough choices in how we live. The time when we had extra spending money is gone, and many people are cutting back on our budgets because money just does not go as far as it used to go.
The Cost of Education Has Risen Due to Inflation
The field of education is no different — educational costs have gone up due to inflation. For instance, the costs for books and other school-related supplies have also risen for universities and educators.
Some schools have tried to be better stewards of their funds to minimize extra expenses for their students. But educational institutions cannot stop cost increases; at some point, they must inevitably pass higher costs along to their students.
Enrollment at Some Schools Is Decreasing
But educational institutions are now facing another problem due to inflation: decreased student enrollment.
While some students attend school with grants or through assistance from their employers, most students pay for school out of pocket or rely on student loans.
For students who currently attend school and have financial changes to their personal budgets, they often struggle to make tuition payments. Even if a student has a surplus of money saved to attend school, that surplus has evaporated for many people during this time of inflation.
How Schools Are Handling Tighter Budgets
Schools are also making changes due to the decrease in students and inflation. We know that all educational institutions need funding to operate, and fewer students equal less funding for a school.
Now, all schools need to be smarter about the money they spend and how they currently operate. A good example is the University System of Georgia. For several years, the University System of Georgia has primarily focused on on-site education.
Many of the schools in the University System of Georgia traditionally offered on-campus classes that required those educational institutions to pay for other school-related costs, such as building maintenance and other related expenses. To save money, however, the University System of Georgia offered an online format for its students’ education. This move by school administrators will help lower the costs of higher education and help Georgia’s higher education system to be more competitive, but the actual long-term effects of this decision are still unknown.
Other schools have also shifted their focus from on-campus to an online format as well. Other schools that only focus on online education, however, might not have this option to cut costs.
But all schools need to be creative and open to new ideas, focusing on the needs of their students. A simple mistake by school administrators could cost a school much-needed students, and several schools over the years have closed their doors due to a lack of enrollment and funding.
Sometimes a closing school will find a partner school who is staying open to absorb their current student body. Other times, a school might simply close its doors.
Paying for Higher Education Doesn’t Have to Be Out of Reach
While it sounds like inflation is making it much harder to attend college, it’s still possible. Instead, today’s college students have to be smarter in their choices about what school to attend and how they will reach the ultimate goal of a college degree.
Higher education is still worthwhile. There are ways for college students to save on their expenses, and it’s also worth exploring financial aid options. For more information on financial aid, contact the University’s Financial Aid department.