Americans need more and better opportunities to obtain education and skills training, not just immediately following high school, but also throughout their careers in order to keep up with the changing economy. The cost of college tuition has more than doubled during the past 30 years and studies have called into question how much learning occurs during college. Because of this, many Americans have come to question if an investment in high education makes sense. At the same time, many high-paying jobs, including many that do not require college degrees (such as those in the skilled trades), go unfilled for lack of qualified candidates.
The good news is that the market is responding to the demand for different education paradigms and offering students, at all ages and stages of life, new opportunities to learn and gain skills. Some traditional colleges and universities are offering students access to lower-cost education options, including access to course materials online. For-profit businesses are developing a variety of new educational services that compete with traditional providers as well as fill critical gaps by offering more specific, skills-based education and training opportunities.
Policymakers should applaud these trends and consider policy reforms to encourage continued innovation in education. Importantly, education consumers—not government regulators—are best situated to sort out which providers, both traditional and for-profit, provide value and which do not. This process is the best way to bring costs of education down and provide more Americans with access to the education and training that they need. Read more to find out if an investment in higher education makes sense for you and your family!