US Trails Scandinavian Countries at Olympics — and in College Affordability
You might think this table lists the results of the cross-country skiing events at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, but don’t be fooled. It actually depicts the affordability of higher education in these countries — and much like cross-country skiing, the U.S. gets buried by Scandinavia.
To draw this comparison, we looked at out-of-pocket expenses as a percentage of the median income after taxes. The out-of-pocket expenses include tuition, fees, and room and board, but are offset by scholarships, grants, loans, and tax deductions. That net price gives us a good idea of the true cost to attend college for one year.
Students in the Scandinavian countries pay less than 20 percent of the median income to attend college. Meanwhile, students in the United States must spend more than half of their median income for one year of college. These median figures hide the fact that low-income students must devote even more of their income for a college education.
The U.S. isn’t in last place in this medal race, but we have a long way to go before an affordable college education is within reach for all students.