The Rising Costs of Higher Education

A Reference Handbook

by John R. Thelin

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Cover image for The Rising Costs of Higher Education

March 2013


Pages 364
Volumes 1
Size 6x9
Topics Current Events and Issues/Education

Providing a clear, logical guide to an illogical topic, this book provides an easy-to-understand guide for anyone who wants to successfully navigate the labyrinth of going to college—and paying for the experience.

100 years ago, college tuition at prestigious Ivy League colleges such as Harvard and Brown was about $130 per year. Even when adjusted for inflation, today's cost of higher education has increased dramatically—to the point where a college education is shifting further out of reach for many Americans. This book explains the essential concepts in the debate regarding the staggering costs of higher education, supplying ten original essays by higher education policy experts, a lively historical narrative that provides context to current issues, and systematic guides to finding additional sources of information on the subject.

Written from a historian's point of view, The Rising Costs of Higher Education: A Reference Handbook explains the economics of higher education in a manner that encourages readers to participate in the discussion on how to control ever-increasing tuition costs. Both college-bound students and parents will come to appreciate how complicated the problem of paying for college is, and grasp the crucial differences between "cost" and "price" in the specific economics of colleges and universities.


  • Provides prospective college students and their families with the information needed to clearly understand the complexities of the costs of attending college
  • Includes original essays on the costs of higher education contributed by ten outstanding policy experts in the field
  • Supplies important historical context on the contemporary issue of the cost of education
Series Description

Contemporary World Issues

24-hour cable news. Millions of Internet sites. Information overload. How can we sort through the information? Assess the analyses? Trust the sources?

This award-winning series offers comprehensive, one-volume reference handbooks on important topics related to health, education, the environment, and social and ethical issues.

A world of questions demands a library of answers. Contemporary World Issues covers the controversial topics that students, readers, and citizens want to read about, write about, and know more about. Visit the entire list of titles in the series at


  • Subject coverage spans six main categories:
  • Each volume offers a rich array of resources:
  • A background and history essay that provides essential context and grounding for further study
  • A balanced summary of ongoing controversies and proposed solutions that show numerous paths for further research on pressing, contemporary questions
  • A forum of authoritative perspective essays by experts, offering a broad spectrum of arguments on the issues
  • Carefully selected annotated documents, tables, and graphs that supports statistical literacy and investigation of primary sources
  • A chronology of events, legislation, and movements that place events in sequence and draw connections between them
  • Annotated lists of print, Web, and multimedia resources that power the next steps for in-depth research
  • Profiles of key players and organizations
  • A glossary of key terms
Author Info

John R. Thelin, PhD, is professor of higher education and public policy at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. He is an alumnus of Brown University where he concentrated in history and was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He received his master's degree in history and doctorate in history of education from the University of California, Berkeley. He has been chancellor professor at the College of William & Mary, professor at Indiana University, and the research director for the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities. In 2001 he was president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education and received their outstanding research award in 2011. Thelin's published works include A History of American Higher Education.



"This highly recommended book is a vital addition to the timely discussion of the rising costs of higher education. It is appropriate for public, high school, and academic libraries."—ARBAonline

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