Obama promises college costs of $23,000 a year by 2022

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama is wooing students and parents on the campaign trail by claiming he will halve the cost growth of college over the next ten years.

But that would still leave parents and students paying $23,000 a year in 2022-2023, according to forecasts.

“I want to cut the growth of tuition in half over the next 10 years,” he declared at a Nov. 5 rally in Cincinnati, Ohio. “That’s my plan. That’s what change is.  That’s what we’re fighting for in this election.”

College costs are currently growing at roughly 5 percent a year on average, so even his halving of cost growth would leave future students facing massive bills that could deter many from going to college, and leave many graduates with huge debts in their 20s.

Without any slowdown in cost growth, the cost of a year in government-run colleges are likely to climb 6 percent a year, from $16,000 in 2010 to $35,000 by the 2022-2023 school year, according to estimates prepared by MassMutual Financial Group.

The cost of a year in a private university is expected to grow 4 percent a year, and reach almost $60,000 by 2022-2023, says MassMutual.

If Obama gets what he wants, the average cost of a year in a government-run college would be roughly $23,000 in 2022-23, and the cost of private college would be almost $50,000, according to MassMutual’s forecasts.

Obama’s statement about halving college costs has appeared in numerous speeches since October 24, and has replaced a vague commitment to curb costs.

“I want to work with colleges and universities to keep down the growth in tuition costs because I want every young person to be able to get the higher education that they’re willing to work for,” he said Oct. 23 at a rally in Delray Beach, Fla.

Two days later, at a rally in Richmond, Va., Obama declared “I want to work with colleges and universities to cut the growth of tuition in half.”

“I want to make sure that young people are not burdened with debt when they’re pursuing the education they need to compete.  We can do that,” he said.

The campaign-trail focus on college costs is likely aimed at many parents and student voters who are worried about the steady rise in college costs and the outstanding student debt.

Total student debt has risen sharply in recent years to more than $1 trillion.

That’s more than Americans owe in credit card debt, and it leaves many graduates — especially post-graduates — saddled with heavy debt in their 20s and 30s.

The College Board’s estimate of college prices is lower than that suggested by MassMutual and other college-cost forecasters. That’s because the final price —- tuition minus university grants — is somewhat lower, according to the board. Students at state-run colleges now pay $12,110, while students at private colleges pay an average of $23,840, the board reported in October.

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