A University of Houston fee statement posted to Twitter shows just how much more expensive college has become for younger generations.
Twitter user @bax_up posted a photo of the fee statement on Monday night, saying they found it inside of a book. The statement is for nine credit hours taken in the 1975 Spring semester. The total bill — including tuition, the student service fee, the academic building use fee, a subscription to the Houstonian student newspaper, and the parking fee — was just $152.50. The bulk of that cost was tuition, which was just $50 ($241.85, adjusted for inflation).
“This is why boomers all think you can pay for college by working part time at the Woolworth’s,” @bax_up tweeted in response to their photo.
Found this in a book-
Cost of attending the University of Houston in 1975:
— Bax Kapital 📚 (@bax_up) August 14, 2018
In inflation-adjusted dollars, that would amount to $737.64 in July 2018. Obviously, nine credit hours at the University of Houston today doesn’t cost anywhere near that amount. Even for just an annual parking pass for the UH garage, a student will have to pay $615.
According to CollegeCalc, students attending the University of Houston from out of state pay $864 per credit hour. That means a UH student who isn’t from Texas taking nine credit hours in 2018 could expect to pay $7,776. Even for in-state students paying $356 per credit hour, this same class load would cost a Texas resident more than $3,200.
Part of the reason college was so cheap for the baby boomer generation was due to an abundance of state and local funding support for public colleges and universities. A 2012 report from the American Council on Education found that in 1975, federal, state, and local governments supplied more than 60 percent of all expenditures for higher education. But by 2010, governments’ share of higher education costs dropped to just 34.1 percent, meaning students have to shoulder the rest by taking on debt.
Data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that, on average, the cost of attending college has nearly tripled, going from $8,756 per year in 1980 to almost $22,000 per year in 2010:
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) wants to make public colleges tuition-free for students whose families make less than $125,000 per year, and estimates that it would cost approximately $47 billion per year to do so. Under his proposal, the federal government would cover two-thirds of the cost, and states would cover the final third. While that sounds like a lot, a 2017 Pew Research chart shows that the federal government already spends roughly $65 billion on higher education.
As of May 2018, total U.S. student loan debt is at $1.48 trillion according to Student Loan Hero, with 44.2 million Americans paying an average of $351 per month in debt service.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.