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Is relief from sky-high college tuition on the horizon?

Feb 18, 2015

Stuart Butler, the author of "3 Ways to Lower Crazy High College Costs".
Credit www.brookings.edu

Paying for college – it’s a challenge for many households.

Seventy percent of the college grads this year took out student loans, and the average college grad this year is paying back student loans of around $33,000.

While these numbers may seem daunting, advancements in technological and business models may help lower cost of college over time.

Stuart Butler, a Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, recently wrote a piece for the Brookings blog Up Front called “3 Ways to Lower Crazy High College Costs."

He noted that colleges are feeling the pressure to show the value they return for students’ money, and to be more transparent about it.

“It’s a real challenge to make sure that people can actually navigate the costs and the returns in education,” Butler said. “The higher education sector has been very good for many years at covering this up, not really giving you that kind of information.”

The current federal system attempts to “imply quality” with the notion of “accreditation,” Butler said. One issue with this, however, is that becoming accredited costs a lot, putting new ventures at a disadvantage.

“What we’re seeing now is a lot of really interesting institutions that are using different business models, making much greater use of technology, to offer very high-quality degrees – in some cases accredited, in some cases not – that compete directly with this cozy world of accredited, established, traditional, sort of sage on the stage kind of approach to higher education,” he said.