I don't think we can just extrapolate trends. Eternal exponential growth is a neat clean curve on paper, but the real world doesn't/can't work that way. If nothing else the stopping force would be the revolution of peasants with torches and pitchforks who see that higher education is simply unattainable. We're already seeing a groundswell of anger supporting the Warren and Sanders campaigns, and a big part of that is the growing student loan debt issue. At some point well before $500K there'd be a hard tipping point when ordinary people simply can't afford higher education.what is stopping it? College costs went up roughly 5x from the 70s to the 90s/00s, you don't think they can go up another 4-5x over the next 20 years?
I mean I agree it's insane, but if you plot out tuition costs from the 1960s to now and extend the graph another 20 years it gets crazy. My assumption is average private college or out of state public will be in the neighborhood of $100K per year in tuition alone in about 15 years. Throw in living costs and add in another kid or two and maybe some graduate school....
Much of the supra-inflation annual increases in higher education costs have been a result of diminishing government/taxpayer support of public colleges. Some of these states, there's simply not that much more to cut. Private school costs are going up, but most of them have large endowments and almost every attendee gets significant need and non-need scholarship aid.
I have one kid currently in a superb public university, getting no financial assistance. I just wrote a check for $14,290 for spring semester including housing and meals. Add other incidental expenses and she's there for about $35K/year.
I have another kid in a private university where his annual cost is around $55K/year. He gets about $15K in aid from the school each year; nothing need based.
So rough outlay of maybe $160K per degree. You really think those costs could TRIPLE in real dollars in the next 20 years?