Health and education should be free. Or this is what most Europeans and a large group of Americans think. I was born into a middle-class family in a little city in Spain. I obtained my undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Murcia without having to ask for a loan. When I came to the United States, I learned about the great efforts that most of the families had to go through to send their kids to school. Now, it looks like my husband and I will have to go through this as well in a few years.
Reducing the cost of higher education has been one of the battles of the current administration. President Obama is a big proponent of making education more accessible to everybody. In an indirect attempt to decrease the currently rapidly increasing cost of college tuition, the US Department of Education has published a college scorecard in which the tuition cost, the salary after graduation, and the graduation rate are made available, among other information (https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/). Prospective students and their families can easily access relevant data that can help them to make a better, more educated choice. For instance, you can visually compare the cost of several universities or rank them based on average salary after graduation. Moreover, you can easily find other relevant statistics, such as the cost per family income, the student retention, average test scores, and the demographics of the school.
While the “College scorecard” is not a perfect tool, it is a great start. For instance, in order to have a fair comparison, the data should be break down more specifically by majors. The average salary of graduates from universities that offer mostly technical degrees might seem a better choice when comparing the ratio between salary and cost than liberal arts colleges (e.g. Illinois Institute of Technology and University of Chicago). While this tool may reduce the average cost of education, it might also produce a non-desirable effect; the most prestigious and top-ranked universities might be able to continue increasing their tuition as long as their graduate salaries appear desirable. Yet, it will not fulfill our hope that our daughter and our son could go the university for free.