The Rise of Tuition Causes College Enrollment to Fall

Posted by Nailah Herbert in College LifeOctober 25, 2021(Last Updated December 7, 2022)3 min read
Key Takeaways
  • College is considered a valuable tool to those who want to secure a job with a great salary and benefits. However, the cost of college tuition continues to increase by about 8 percent each year.
  • The inflation of college tuition causes enrollment to slip, resulting in students choosing alternative routes versus attending college.
  • College enrollment also falls due to the prominent issue of students being buckled down with student loan debt. In the United States, the current student loan debt currently looms at more than $1.7 trillion.
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College is considered a valuable tool to those who want to secure a job with a great salary and benefits. However, the cost of college tuition increases about 8 percent every year, which means it doubles every nine years. The inflation of tuition is causing college enrollment to slip, resulting in students choosing alternative routes versus attending college.


Why do colleges increase tuition every year? 


Student loan debt is a prominent issue, and it is currently looming at more than $1.7 trillion. Post-COVID-19 pandemic, many public colleges, and universities increased their tuition fee due to the cutting of state funding. Because of the decrease in state funding, students had to make up for the costs through the rise of tuition fees. In addition, state budget cuts caused public colleges and universities to admit more students who need less financial aid, cutting campus budgets and laying off faculty and staff. 



Image Credit: Shutterstock by Syda Productions


During the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities had to pivot to virtual education to cut down the spread of coronavirus, which led to a decrease in college enrollment. According to NBC News, before the pandemic, many colleges were in a dire financial state due to the mismanagement of finances. However, the pandemic has intensified their need for financial aid not only for their students but also for the school itself. 


Recommended Read: 3 Campus Offices that Help You Handle Your College Biz


How does the rise of college tuition affect prospective students?


Besides purchasing a home, college is one of the most significant expenses that a person could encounter throughout their lifetime. According to U.S. News, the average student loan debt for a recent college graduate peaks at $30,000. College students tend to take out loans for several reasons, which can include:


  1. Some college students cannot afford to pay out of pocket, so instead, they take out a public or private loan to cover the cost of tuition and other college-related expenses.
  2. Some students may have tuition paid for due to financially supportive family members but may still need to take out a loan due to the high costs of textbooks, supplies, and room and board.


What are the alternatives to going to college? 


Since college tuition is rising each year, many students are opting to find an alternative to college. Some are pursuing trade school because of the lower costs of tuition and the shorter time it takes to obtain a degree. As a result, trade school is becoming increasingly popular for those who already know what they would like to pursue in their career. 


Recommended Read: ​​College Isn't The Right Choice for Everyone. Here Are 3 Alternatives



Image Credit: Shutterstock by Vane Nunes


As work from home rises, many students are also deciding to start their own businesses. In addition, with the rise of social media presence, numerous high school students are choosing to become social media influencers. A study conducted by Morning Consult discovered that people between the ages of 13 to 38 aspired to be social media influencers, with many steering towards outlets like Tik Tok, YouTube, and Instagram to promote their business or impact their desired audience.


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Although college is a valuable tool to help people network and gain resources that they may not have received otherwise, students are choosing to steer clear of student loan debt if possible. The rise of tuition allows students to learn about other alternatives that can have a positive and beneficial impact on their career and financial future. 


What are your thoughts on the rise of college tuition and the fall of college enrollment? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

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