After the great recession many people in higher education wondered if the sharp fall in asset prices (mainly equities and real estate) would lead to lower costs in tuition. It did not.

Not only has higher-ed gotten more expensive, the last decade has seen a sharp increase in the cost of public institutions (who had previously been the most cost conscious).

In a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities they show the increase in public institution cost since 2008. The news is not good.

The Denver Post does a great write-up on costs, relative to increases in financial aid for students. Again, the news is not good.

As Universities raise tuition prices year after year, they are not raising the levels of financial aid to keep pace. This puts increasing pressure on low and moderate income families as they face choices about their children's post-secondary education.

To make matters worse, the multi-decade trend does not appear to be slowing. Both private and public four-year universities are increasing their tuition rates and it's unclear what would slow these trends in the future.

While education is becoming more expensive, average wages have been flat.

These trends put today's students in a difficult situation. They need education to access the best jobs of today's economy, but face ever higher prices and relatively diminished financial aid prospects.

The Gap Year As Insurance Policy

If students are going to take the plunge (and debt) into a 4 year university the most important thing they can do is have a clear end goal. This is a why, "Gap Year," has become more common in the US. Students should take time to travel, attend workshops or engage in an Academy like ours, to cultivate their interests before taking out loans to pursue a degree.

Hopefully, Create Academy, can help students align their interests before they borrow large sums of money.

Education is still the path to a better life, but today's students must be smarter and more cautious than their parents generation to avoid making a major financial mistake.