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Tuition timeline shows how today’s Latino students less likely to afford college in near future

LatinaLista — In keeping with what is developing as a theme for MediaCasts posts so far this week, the issue of Latino college graduation rates remains troubling.


According to a March education conference organized by the College Board, there has been only a 2 percent increase in Latino college graduation rates since 1975. Recent budget cuts forcing colleges to raise fees and tuition will more than likely hold many Latino students back from enrolling full-time or even at all this school year.

It’s not a new problem. In fact, college tuition and/or related fees has plagued students throughout the history of higher education. For that reason, a number of new scholarships targeting specific types of students has been on the rise. For example, in addition to scholarships that target for ethnicity or talent, there are scholarships for single moms who wish to further their education.

Yet, no matter the amount of scholarships, it’s the price of tuition that will make or break someone’s decision to pursue higher education.

To give us all some perspective on the issue, Best Colleges Online shares with Latina Lista an interesting and informative history of college tuition.

Come to find out there was a time in this country when universities didn’t charge tuition but that has changed with 2011 marking the first time colleges took in more in tuition than they received in state funding:

A Timeline of College Tuition

In recent years, the soaring costs of college tuition have angered many students and parents, leaving many wondering where they will come up with the funds to pay it. While college is still a pretty sound investment for most career paths, the cost of an education has outpaced general inflation by almost double, leaving many families simply unable to shoulder the fiscal burden without incurring large amounts of debt. The best schools can sometimes take a lifetime to repay.

So how did we get to where we are today?

A big part of it has to do with how colleges themselves have changed and the ways our cultural outlook on higher education have evolved. More students than ever are heading to college, and expect bigger and better resources from schools each and every year.

Here, we’ve compiled a timeline of some key moments in college tuition history that will give you a better idea of both the history of higher education and the role finances have played in it.

1100-1200: The first true universities are established in medieval Europe.

Few of these charge tuition, and are either supported by the church or the government. Of course, while free tuition at Oxford sounds grand, there were limitations. There were few acceptable fields of study (law, medicine, theology and the arts were about it), classes began at 5 AM and a bachelor’s took six years to complete. Want a higher degree than that? Add 12 more years.

1796: Thomas Jefferson proposes an education system supported through taxes.

Jefferson believed that for a government to truly work and people to be good citizens, the population had to be educated. Jefferson never saw his plans for universal free education realized in their entirety, but the government did begin subsidizing elementary schools in 1818 and helped him start The University of Virginia with a $15,000 grant.

Early 1800s: Many colleges do not charge tuition (or have very low rates), but only the wealthy can afford the living expenses incurred during study.

Much like parents today have to help support students as they attend college, at the turn of the 19th century families also paid for room and board, books, clothing and other supplies their young scholars would need. Most could not afford these expenses or the luxury of not having an adult member of the family in the work force.

1810: Colleges only provide bare bones accommodations for students.

Forget about the cushy colleges of today. In the early 1800s, it was common for college students, even those who were quite wealthy, to sleep in barracks and eat less than delicious meals (wormy salt pork, anyone?), which helped keep tuition and living costs fairly low. Today’s state of the art colleges and facilities cost a pretty penny to maintain and build, driving up tuition costs significantly.

1870: Tuition at Harvard was a mere $150 per year.

For half that, just $75, students could attend Brown University for a year. While a pittance today, this was still a fair amount of money at the time (about $3,000 in today’s dollars), and many lower class families would never be able to afford college without scholarship support.

1920: College admissions soar, doubling between 1920 and 1930.

In the carefree days of the Roaring 20′s, colleges saw a huge surge of admissions from both male and female students. By the end of the decade, 20% of college-age Americans would be enrolled. Tuition was still fairly low, and students could attend Wharton Business School for just $250 a year.

1944: The U.S. government passes the G.I. Bill.

This bill helped provide for the returning veterans of WWII, and still offers higher education benefits for their counterparts today. Under the legislation, veterans could get college or vocational education for free or at a reduced cost, something that still helps many go to college today. By the time the original bill ended in 1956 (it has since been retooled), 7.8 million veterans had used it to receive an education or complete training programs.

1965: The Higher Education Act passes.

Another major piece of educational legislation affecting college tuition, the Higher Education Act helped provide financial assistance for students who couldn’t afford to attend college solo. It is what helped establish many of the Financial Aid programs still in place today, giving students low interest loans and federal grant money to attend schools of their choosing.

1973: In today’s dollars, tuition for one year at a private college averages $9,876, and at in-state public schools just $2,175.

While private school still isn’t a bargain, all four years would cost less than one at most schools today.

1972: Only 49% of high school grads go on to college…

Finish reading A Timeline of College Tuition.

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