Three decades ago in 1984, a year of education, room and board at a typical U.S. four-year educational institution cost an average of $3,499. This amounts to $8,756 when adjusted for inflation. Moving forward to 2010, this amount had nearly tripled to $22,092. This figure only represents a year’s fees, not the total cost of the degree.
To meet this economic challenge head-on, nearly 40 million American students had to turn to the student loan market, taking on over one trillion dollars in student debt in 2013.This is according to data supplied by the Federal Student Aid Office of the U.S. Department of Education.
This is one reason why many students are opting to earn degrees online so they can make money while completing their degree. Higher education, which was once a part of the American dream, is quickly becoming a pipe dream for underserved and low-income Americans.
In response, President Barack Obama and the First Lady recently invited education decision-makers and leaders to the White House to work out a plan to bring more Americans the opportunity to obtain a degree.
The Expanding Education Opportunity summit had the aim of fostering cooperation in the industry and brainstorming solutions to the lack of college opportunities for disadvantaged and low-income students. The summit formed part of the Obama administration’s overall agenda for education, which has been making its way through Congress over the past few months.
Addressing delegates and members of the press, President Obama said: “The one reason we’re here today is we want to make sure more young people have a chance to earn a higher education. Today is a great example of how we can advance this agenda without a bunch of new legislation.”
Without the benefit of a college degree, children who are born in the bottom fifth of the country’s income distribution have only a five percent chance of ever ending up in the top 20 percent of earners during their lifetimes.
The probability that such a child will even get out of the bottom 20 percent income bracket is only 55 percent. This is according to the findings of a study conducted by the Brookings Institute in 2008.
Invitees were only allowed to attend the summit if they submitted a brief in-house plan of action for the coming year to fight the opportunity gap as well as publicly committing funds for the execution of this plan.
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