... is out of control and a bubble.
The bubble is caused by the monopoly of credentials that seem required by employers in both the private and public sectors.
To deem the cost of college education as a bubble, we must look at the cost and whether a cheaper substitute could accomplish the same result - aka knowledge.
The tuition and fees at Harvard for 2011 runs about $40,000. The standard load is four courses per semester, making eight per year. Thus a course costs $5,000 each. For that, one gets two or three lectures per week, some access time (usually with a graduate student), some assigned papers and and an exam or two graded.
At Ohio State University (I'm not using that pretentious and linguistically false "The" with which the state pompously likes to prefix the name), a year's tuition and fees is about $10,000. Computing an equivalent eight Harvard style courses, that makes $1,250 per course.
I know the content level of undergraduate and graduate college courses in science, math, humanities and social sciences. My numerous degrees and extensive, broad course work gave me a very wide exposure at a high level.
The Teaching Company offers DVD and CD courses that provide lectures at the good undergraduate college level for prices (on sale) at around $100 each. One can buy books on Amazon for around $100 per course or go to the public library and order them. Thus, a diligent student can reproduce a good course and with study, learn the material, for about $100-200. Missing is the ability to ask questions. At Harvard, one can get that (at least when I was there). At OSU, I don't know. Maybe. And have graded exams/papers.
How much would it truly cost to provide access for questions? With today's electronic communication, not much. How much would it cost to have graded exams and papers? Ditto: not much using modern electronic communication.
This won't teach one how to write, BUT it would teach you the facts - the knowledge of the material.
A diligent, self-learner can get college level knowledge of one course for about $200. Or one can pay Harvard $5,000 or OSU $1,250.
The "overpayment" is between 600% and 2,500%. That's a bubble - an obvious sign of a monopoly.
Can student learn the material themselves? Yes. I have done it, first in high school over 40 years ago and now.
Consider the TV show, Star Trek. In numerous scenes, that great script writer, Gene Roddenberry showed computers of that period teaching people knowledge. We have those computers today - even the voice recognition.
Even at the advanced [AP] high school level, free or low cost lectures are available. For example, MIT open courseware provides lectures by top professors in physics suitable for engineers and scientists for freshmen and sophomores.
Modern technology should be cutting the cost of education by many multiples. Why isn't it?
The Pharisees [ = professional classes, knowledge bureaucracy ] prevent these savings from being passed thru. They are propping up that bubble to control access to milk money from the common man and woman wanting to provide their children with the opportunity that a good education brings.
It's really a despicable crime, to overcharge youths, burden them with huge loans that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, all to enrich and overpay the pharisees.
Over time, this bubble needs to be burst.
[ By the way, the cost of graduate and professional schools likkely cannot be cut as much with technology. For those graduate courses that require special skills and knowledge, technology can help some, but in my experience, would not be able to replace the direct interaction with good professors with experience at the forefront of the field.
[ I suspect the same applies to grade school and average high school courses. Students need a teacher to show the way. But technology should permit larger class sizes and cost cutting ]
Word of the Day
"Nonplus" - verb and noun [$10]
Nonplus means (verb, transitive, usually in past tense as nonplussed, or the participle, nonplussing] completely perplex; 2. (noun) a state of perplxity, a standstill (at a nonplus, reduce to a nonplus).
Sentence: Don't be nonplussed by the extremely high cost of college education; recognize it as a monoploy induced bubble.