Two-year institution poses as a safer option for PA. students

David Heilman, North Campus Staff

Education can be an expensive and risky concept for families. Pennsylvania ranked 48th in education affordability and ranked 49th in student accrued debt according to the University of Pennsylvania’s recent release of state-by-state risk assessment for post-secondary education. These numbers don’t look good for students making their way into college; however, there may be safer options available.

According to the U.S department of education, the average cost of college in Pennsylvania is $22,299, about $8,000 higher than the national average. This annual cost for education means that the average Pennsylvania family has to commit 40% of their annual income to a single student’s education. State Treasurer Joe Torsella refers to the state’s student debt situation as “a moral failing.” While students continue to wait for something to be done, thousands of them are making their way toward this risky financial decision. One way for students to mitigate this risk is to spend the first two years at a community college, and then transfer to a four year institution, as a means to a cheaper end.

Camilo Maldonado with Forbes says, “Millennials face record levels of student debt, and the culprit seems to be the explosive increase in the cost of a college education, coupled with a lack of wage growth.” According to his article, college costs in Pennsylvania have increased at a rate eight times faster than annual household incomes. Overall, the average cost of attending a four year degree nearly double from $52,000 in 1989 (after accounting for inflation) to approximately $104,000 dollars today. Comparing that to the slight increase of annual household income from $54,000 to $59,000, and the concern becomes apparent.

However, a far more promising look comes with data compiled from a survey done by College Board about costs over the same time period for students attending community college. According to their findings, the average cost of community college has grown from approximately $1700 ($3,517 adjusted for inflation) to $3600 in 2019. This means that the cost of community college has stayed consistent to the income of an individual over time. With the times Pennsylvania faces toward college expenditures, it may be a wise move to consider public two-year institutions as a stable start to the long road of education.