Today I’m doffing my columnist hat. In its place I’m donning another that says “Dad of two college students.” This graduation season seems like a good time to consider the extraordinary costs of in-state tuition at Virginia’s colleges and universities.
It’s getting harder and harder every year for a middle-class family to put kids through college. How the heck have things gotten so out of whack?
The Radford University Board of Visitors raised tuition prices last week by about 3.2 percent. Most of the other state universities have approved increases in that neighborhood. Virginia Tech has a tuition increase in the offing.
The bottom line is, it’s going to cost a Virginia high school graduate $4,682 to attend Radford in the fall semester, not counting room, board, books or other expenses. At Virginia Tech, tuition and fees are likely to be about $5,500 per semester.
Those prices are outrageously high.
When I entered the University of Maryland in 1978, in-state tuition and fees for one semester cost $400. At the University of Virginia that year, it was $402.
Back then, the minimum wage was $2.65 per hour. In other words, at either institution, a kid could go to school in exchange for roughly the equivalent of 151 hours of work.
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