Why Does College Cost So Much, and Is It Worth It?

Newt Gingrich reported that the price a college education has gone up more than inflation, more than heath insurance and — most critically — far more the average American family's income. But is the U.S. system of higher education ripping off families?

Sound off! — tell us what you thought about this special presentation.

Did you miss the special? If so, watch these short clips to get caught up:
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Visit Foxnews.com's special section on campus life, College 101.

Here's what some FOX Fans are saying:

"Thank you for airing a program about real issues, real people, and real problems. Americans want to hear how to solve our everyday problems, not about other countries problems. We all struggle to pay bills and want to know how to afford to send our children to college. I have three children. We only make around $28,000 a year. That does not leave extra money to pay for college, much less to save any money for retirement. Thank you so much for showing a program about something that everyone worries about for their children." — Parker (Alabama)

"Newt Gingrich's special on the cost of college left me angry. He had an upper middle class family complaining that they did not have the income (over $100,000 per year) to send their daughter to the college of their choice. If they would watch their spending otherwise, it should have been no problem to send their daughter to a good college, albeit one below their 'status in society.'" — Kenneth (Huntingdon, PA)

“Thanks for the show — it hits home, as we have six kids at home. One of the most interesting parts of the program was how the government subsidy programs help escalate the cost of the higher education. We are horrible dynamic! We see the same thing in the health cost. If the federal government is going to have a percentage increase annually for health costs, then health costs are guaranteed to go up at least at that percentage. Instead of helping, it just compounds the problem!” — Woods

“Thank you for telling the truth. College for the middle class, regardless of race or gender, is equally financially difficult. Government financial aid programs will only truly benefit those who make $35,000 for a family of four or less. I would suggest a viable segment for the next installment of College 101 should be the rising trend of adult learners, especially women returning to college in the 35-45 year old range.” — Stacy (Roswell, GA)

“What about the credit card applications that our college students are bombarded with? They used to work in the summer and pay tuition with those earnings, now they work all summer to pay on their mounting credit card debt!” — Pawt

“My mom and I watched your program on the rising cost of college last night and found it very interesting and informative. It's relieving to find out that we're not the only ones worrying over how to maneuver our decisions and finances within the next few years, and probably a good amount of years after that. I was also glad — and a little aggravated — to finally find out where so many colleges actually invest all that money students pay them…enormous gyms, multiple art galleries, etc. It's nice to have those kinds of things in measure, of course, but I think that if adding these luxuries is making people pay off loans for the rest of their lives, then the whole system has passed a little bit into excess. In any case, seeing how different families have handled this very important period in their lives has pushed me to think more about how I will handle mine. I hope that when I end up making the final decision it will be the right one--this program has certainly inspired me to find out more about my options.” — Alice

“I thought the program was something that people need to know about, but it was presented in the wrong way. Although I can sympathize with any family trying to send a child to college, I can’t see a family with an income of $135,000 as being a typical example of one that is ‘struggling’ to pay college. My wife and I have a combined income of $70,000 yearly and we just put our second child in college.” — Archie

“Thank you for explaining why college cost appears to be spinning out of control. Colleges may price themselves out of reach of the very students they need to fill classes. My daughter was offered 3/4 or full scholarships to from colleges without sending an application. I suspect that this money came from the robbing of some students in order to romance others. What good does it do for our society to bankrupt the new college graduates and deplete the retirement of their parents?” — Cathy (East Windsor, NJ)

“Newt's program was terrific. I do think that community colleges are worthwhile. There should be arrangements that make sure transfer credits are accepted at the universities.” — Sallie (Portland, OR)

“This special was right on target! A college degree is a rip-off if it has to financed with a large amount of student loans. I felt really bad for the young woman with $80,000 in student loans who is going to be a teacher making $30,000 a year. What is if she marries a young man with that indebtedness? They will spend their married life paying off student loans.” — Sandra

“Everyone keeps talking about paying for their child’s college education. Why don’t more people suggest that a young adult actually work their way through school? Nearly every company I worked for during college offered tuition reimbursement if the courses applied to the position you held or a potential job within that company. Student loans and asking your parents to refinance their house is simply absurd! It’s time that young people realize that college is not a four-year vacation at the expense of their parents.” — Michelle (Columbus, OH)

“I sent two daughters through college without going into debt. Both remained in-state, which certainly helped, although it was their decision as to which college to attend. Both are successful and doing quite well. I am a strong believer that it is the individual that becomes successful due to his upbringing, priorities, ambition and tenacity.” — Anthony (Connecticut)

“On the subject of college expenses you missed an excellent opportunity to give those college-bound freshmen the best advice. You dedicated about three sentences to the subject of attending a two-year versus a four-year college. I wish that you had given the real money-saving advice to all freshmen. I think the young lady who was having her Dad work a lawn-care job to keep her out of more debt at the end of four years should review her life values first. “ — Louise (Jasper, AL)

“I am currently a financial aid advisor/specialist at Illinois State University, and your recommendations were spot-on. If one dollar of every three is spent on teaching, then what is happening to the remainder? Opening the books of the schools is one way to find out. Requiring the quantification of learning should be a must, and if an institution is to receive government funding, then scrutiny of their product only follows. Our school is a teaching institution, not a research institution — but many courses are taught by graduate assistants.” — Mike

“I thought this was an outstanding program. The waste and abuse of resources by our nation's colleges and universities is a scandal. It has been for a long time, but it's just getting worse. The Nobel Prize winner from Chicago was both arrogant and clueless. Too bad he hasn't had the opportunity to send a couple of kids through college on a middle-class income.” — David (Austin, TX)

“I think this show was right on target. It certainly doesn't surprise me. I think college, like almost everything else in this country, is ripping off the American public. I found it interesting that student loans may actually be making the situation worse. Parents need to stop the emotional blackmail that the kids are capable of performing.” — Leonard (Topeka, KS)

“ I am a 37-year old woman who finished her degree later in life. It cost me $40K! I didn't make much money, but I still didn't qualify for any grants, only a partial subsidized loan. Education has become a huge business. What has happened to our system as a whole? Do we de-value experience? Natural talent? Entrepreneurship? There are many ways we can further education and prepare our children for the workforce. What ever happened to training individuals for the trade?” — S

"It was a good report and presented both sides well. We also enjoyed the family you spotlighted, as they seemed so typical of most middle class parents trying desperately to give their children an education because they are good parents and love them. With two children — one graduated recently from a small private college and one in an out of state college — we understand the financial commitments. Colleges need to be accountable for the tremendous debt they are inflicting on working families and young people. Many professors, like your Pulitzer Prize winner on the program, are so out of touch with every day reality for Americans by saying the costs should be higher. Obviously, he is comfortable or he would not be saying that. Most parents do juggle jobs and finances to afford college today. It is very difficult. But how can they turn back the hands of time now?" — Paula (Pittsburgh, PA)

"The show on college cost was very good. There is one item that we have found to be most troublesome and that is the cost of books. It seems that so often the professors write the books and rearrange the chapters and require that new books be purchased. Also, in many science classes, workbooks are required but rarely used. We have two granddaughters attending the local community college on scholarships." — C.A. (Calhoun City, MA)

"I think it's hard for students to make good financial decisions when the parents don't. For the girl going to Albany, her Dad caved. There was a sense on entitlement on the daughter's part and spoiling on the mother's part. Won't someone get real? As a long time teacher of middle school students, I find more and more that parents bow to whatever their child wants regardless of whether the situation is a good idea or not. Kids are running the families." — Judith (Whittier, CA)

"Good program hosted by Newt Gingrich. I could not believe the difference between two professors' viewpoints. Higher education ranks among corporations in taking advantage no matter the consequences. My experience with community colleges for my son and myself is in accord with Speaker Gingrich. They do deserve more acceptance and status, but with additional scrutiny to assure qualified instructors. Bringing back quality education at the compulsory grade levels could generate the higher status for the community colleges." — Sharon (Santee, CA)

"I really enjoyed Newt and the way this subject was presented. It got me to thinking about next year and my now 17-year-old that will be starting college. Living in Florida, we have it pretty good, what with a program called Florida scholars that pay 75 percent tuition on a 2.5 GPA. I went online to refresh my memory of what my daughter will be paying in tuition at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. It will be $1324.88 for 12-credit hours per semester. Then there is myself, I am currently trying to finish a BS in Project Management online. I started almost three years ago at the University of Phoenix online. The best thing about was that my employer Xerox was picking up 100 percent of the tuition as long as I maintained a B or better." — Terry (Pensacola, FL)

"I am a current graduate student at Louisiana State University. I will graduate this December with around $70,000 in student loan debt. My parents have not contributed anything to my education. In order to pay for education, I had to declare independence from my parents. With this, I was able to get enough financial aid to pay for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. Your report implied that the cost of higher education falls on parents. I would disagree with this. The cost should fall on the students themselves. This would make students chose both schools and majors more wisely. I do not agree with your support of community colleges. I never attended a community college, but people that I know that did regret that decision. Often credits from community colleges do not transfer. Community colleges give only limited financial aid and in the words of one of my friends are 'a waste of time.' — Michael (Louisiana State University)

"Excellent program. I'm glad my daughter graduated this year and has been gainfully employed since May. Allow me to share with you our strategy for reigning in college costs four years ago. One option that few people consider is going to university in Canada, like my daughter did. We made out financially without either one of use going into debt, while my daughter received a top-notch academic and cultural education. She doesn't regret her decision for a second. In fact, she is not only working, but making more money than many of her high school friends who attended Ivy and other top notch and top dollar schools." — Bob (Morristown, NJ)

"Your show this evening on the high cost of college tuition was very informative. My daughter will be attending college next year, and she plans on becoming a doctor. I hope there's a lot of aid out there for my daughter because I hate to see her pass up a promising career because of the high cost of attending college." — Tony (Rome, NY)

"The show was very informative, but at the same time depressing. Regular middle class people are left with very few alternatives as far as paying for their children's college education." — Molly

"My third child is now enrolled in college, and I have two that already graduated. The irony is that the family making $135,000 was not eligible for tuition assistance, nor do they qualify for tax credits, much the same as my family. However, we pay roughly $40,000 a year in taxes as our income is between sample family and $200,000. These taxes educate other students who do qualify and middle and upper middle-income families get hammered. My wife is an admissions director at state university and sees many examples of students using Pell Grants while at the same time not applying themselves at taxpayer expense. Another issue is student debt with automobiles and insurance, requiring large amount of time and in many instances students quit school with intent to come back after trying to catch debts up and do not." — Lyle