As Idaho's Sticker Prices Rise, Is College 'Too Big A Risk To Take?'

Jun 14, 2017

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

Idaho college tuition and fees have increased more than fivefold since 1980, when cost figures are adjusted for inflation.

That’s the conclusion from a new report issued by the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, a nonpartisan budget think tank.

“This trend is occurring at a time when workers with college degrees or other forms of postsecondary education are in higher demand than ever,” according to the report. “Underinvestment may weaken the state’s ability to build a strong and sustainable economy for the long term.”

The report also comes as the state renews its focus on its languid college enrollment and graduation rates. A gubernatorial task force is studying the state’s college and university system — in hopes of finding changes that will encourage more high school graduates to pursue a postsecondary degree or certificate. The 36-member group met Friday and is expected to issue recommendations in September.

In one sense, Idaho’s colleges are among the most affordable in the nation. Idaho’s tuition “sticker price” ranks seventh-lowest in the nation, according to the center’s report.

But that favorable ranking masks some other challenges.

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