'Ivory Tower' Explores Crushing Cost of US College Education

    30 July, 2014

    From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.

    The cost of attending university in the United States has risen quickly in the past 20 years. Many people today say they owe huge amounts of money for loans they received for higher education. The students past and present say they are drowning in debt.

    Movie maker Andrew Rossi examines education debt in the film Ivory Tower. The documentary was released to movie theaters recently. Ivory Tower is often used in America to mean university or college. Andrew Rossi wrote, directed and produced Ivory Tower.

    He says college tuition, the cost of attending classes increased by about 1,100 percent between 1978 and today. Estimates place the nations combined debt for student loans at 1 trillion dollars.

    One comment made by a woman in Ivory Tower shows the deep concern that student loans can cause. But one young man in the Washington D.C. area says he does not face much worry about college costs.

    Brandon Attilis says his parents prepaid his tuition, he is working this summer at a restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia. Mr. Attilis also plans to reduce his expenses by sharing a house with two friends.

    "My parents are paying the cost of the house, but I'm paying utilities. So, between the two, it's still less expensive than actually living in the dorms," Brandon said.

    His mother Chris Attilis says she and her husband began saving money for college tuition shortly after each of their children was born.

    "We took care of four years of college education for less than a year's costs in today's market," said Chris.

    Still, many families lack enough money to do that. The movie notes that there have been reductions in government aid for education. Some colleges also build beautiful but costly campuses in hopes of getting students to attend. But the building projects can also increase costs for students.

    Ms. Attilis visited colleges with Brandon.

    "They put on a good show. And walking through and looking at the granite sinks in the bathrooms I'm thinking, 'This is not what it was looking like when I went to school.'" Chris said.

    Ivory Tower suggests that many students choose not to get a traditional college education because of the costs. Some try online education. Brandon Attilis however says online education is not for everyone.

    "You have to be a real hard worker, you have to really want it," Brandon said.

    He says he hopes that his own schooling will lead to a good business education and a good career. He hopes it will not include huge debt built at the so called ivory towers of education.

    And that's the VOA Learning English Education Report. I'm Bob Doughty.