Policy Documents

How to Solve Oklahoma's College Affordability Problem

Dan Lips –
May 3, 2011

How much should a college education cost?

According to the College Board, the average cost of earning a degree at a private, four-year university is now more than $100,000. If tuition prices continue to rise as quickly as they did during the past decade, a college degree will cost more than $200,000 by the time today’s third-graders are applying. That price tag is enough to cause most parents to break into a sweat.

Is a college degree really worth this cost? Some bright minds think Americans are paying way too much. In fact, Bill Gates—one of the country’s most famous college dropouts—thinks the cost should be closer to zero. He told an audience last summer: “Five years from now, on the web, for free you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world. It will be better than any single university.”

One could argue that the bright future Gates described is already here. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has already put virtually all of its instructional materials, including lectures, online and made it available for free. Other schools, including many elite universities, are following suit. For example, using iTunes University, you can already download free lectures from Stanford, Yale, and dozens of other colleges.

The trend of a free and open higher education system will revolutionize higher education, and fundamentally change the way the world learns. As Gates argues, someday soon, anyone with Internet access—anywhere in the world—will be able to learn from the best professors and teachers.