College Costs Up 500% Since 1985 - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

College Costs Up 500% Since 1985

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"I started saving when he was 2, and he's 19, and it's never enough."

Patricia Rodriguez needs $13,000.

"Where do you get an extra $1,200 a month?"

Her son, Jason, is a sophomore at the University of Hartford. But Patricia's savings are gone.

She's not alone. Nothing in American life has risen in price so quickly as the cost of college - up more than 500% since 1985.

"I think the universities are the biggest scam going in America, the costs - there's no reason that a college education should cost $1,000 a year."

Why is it so expensive? Some say the easy money available to students has created a tuition bubble. Others say it's simple economics.

"You have to go to college to get ahead. At the same time, it's not as if new colleges are opening up all over America the way like let's say a new airline might start up. We basically have a fixed amount of supply and when demand is going up and supply isn't, prices rise," says Stephen Moore with the Wall Street Journal.

Grants and scholarships only cover about 30% of college costs so students have to find or borrow the rest.

Two-thirds of college grads have loan debt - averaging more than $26,000. Others have much more.

"Right now I'm almost $60,000 in debt, which will affect my ability to get a mortgage, to have children and put them through a good education, and it will affect what kinds of jobs that I have choose."

And jobs are what it's all about. Americans with a college education are more likely to be employed - and they earn more money. But in this economy, there are no guarantees.

More than 36% of recent grads are working in jobs that do not require a college degree. That's why the country's most famous student loan recipient wants to hold colleges accountable.

"What we want to do is rate them on who's offering the best value so students and taxpayers get a bigger bang for their buck."

But finding the bucks in the first place, that's a real struggle for parents like Patricia.

"All you want is your kid to go to school and do well, and that's what he's doing. And we don't have the money."

Few Americans will have - if college costs keep rising.

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