Since 2000, we have watched the economy spiral out of control. Housing markets, health care services and financial institutions have had their fair share of problems.

None of these problems has seen more dramatic changes over the last few years than the cost of education in this country.

Since the turn of the millennium, the cost of college tuition and fees has risen almost 200 percent, according to surveys done by the Nation Center for Public Policy and Higher Education (NCPPHE.)

“Measuring Up” is the higher education report card for the nation given by NCPPHE. The report is broken down by state and is given every year. On the 2008 report card, every state received the grade of an “F” excluding California, which received a “C,” in the affordability of college.

Unfortunately, this is something that California may not be able to brag about for very long considering they could possibly end up writing IOU’s instead of issuing tax refunds to cover debt repayment and school spending.

The worst may still be yet to come with some economist predicting the cost of attending a four-year state college will reach $120,000 for all four years by the year 2015, and who knows beyond that.

States are spending more money than ever before to ensure that their high school graduates are prepared to attend college, but many of these graduates could be unable to afford to attend college.

It’s also quickly becoming evident that the idea of private, non-profit universities should completely be abandoned, or at least eliminated from the conversation as far as their affordability.

Research done in 2008 by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) shows that the cost of tuition at these universities has gone up $4,000 since 2000 while the amount of financial aid distributed at these universities has seen very little change.

In today’s economy, high school graduates are left with a choice of choosing to make a living or building the foundations for a career, during a time when the returns for having a college education are decreasing.

This doesn’t mean we need to put less of an emphasis on education, but it is time we came up with new and innovative ways of affording a college education.

Some states are trying to stem the tide of the rising cost of college tuition. Ohio’s Governor Ted Strickland, announced in January that he was freezing tuition rates at four universities around the state in 2010. He also said that he was capping the tuition increase rate at 3.2 percent in 2011. Strickland also mentioned freezing tuition costs at regional, two-year schools in the state for two years.

Other states and organizations are using tuition promise funds, which allows students to get tomorrow’s education at today’s prices.

Another positive aspect of these types of funding programs is that, many of them can be set up for anyone by anyone that is willing to make payments to these fund accounts.

The cost of attending college is no little problem and doesn’t have any quick solutions, but it may be time to change the way that we think about funding education in this country.

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