Why is Graduate School So Expensive?

Updated: Mar 21

Have you ever seen a tuition fee that made your jaw drop? Depending on where you are applying to, grad school is usually an expensive venture, especially if you are from a developing country and you do not have funding. While there are countries where public universities do not require tuition fees, even from international students, graduate school remains expensive in a lot of cases.

Usually, the more prestigious the school, the higher the fees. On the other hand, sometimes, low tuition schools can be situated in high cost of living cities. A lot of times, students assume all they need to pay for is tuition, and they ignore other costs which seem to "spring up" on them when they begin their grad school journey. Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Singapore have been identified as some of the most expensive study abroad destinations for international students with average costs starting from 20,000USD a year.

US NEWS cites Zane Heflin, a policy analyst, in a 2019 article about the cost of college in the country:

"Zane Heflin, policy analyst at The New Center and author of the report titled 'The New American Dream: Alleviating the Student Debt Crisis,' says the ramifications of the 2008 Great Recession are still hitting the higher education world, and students are paying the price. 'The two main drivers of the rising cost of tuition are reduced state funding and the incentive for tuition raises as an unrestricted revenue to benefit colleges,' meaning colleges can choose to spend tuition money however they wish, Heflin says. 'States and local communities are spending less per student. Someone has to take on that cost, and unfortunately it's been the student.' His report outlines a few other reasons why college is so expensive, including a need for schools to devote more money and staff toward complying with regulations set by the U.S. Department of Education; high prices at for-profit colleges; and a competitive drive among some colleges to raise prices to create a perception of quality – a sort of marketing technique, Heflin says. "

While Heflin's analysis attempts to explain the high tuition cost in the US, his points can help us understand why college costs so much in other countries. Graduate education is not expensive in every single country on earth, and in the countries where it is, the reasons could be because of established standards, the general cost of living, the prestige associated with a school, the cost of running the institution, for profit motive of the school etc.

The most important thing to keep in mind is selecting a graduate school that fits in with your budget, and this includes the city it is situated in. While there are funding opportunities, not all of them will cover your expenses outside of tuition and other academic related expenses. Doing your research is especially important, even on tuition waivers, because sometimes the strings attached can be a lot to be bound to.

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