Only the Rich Get Old?

Opinion CategoryI’m glad I’m not in college. You see, the price of tuition at some U.S. universities has been increasing and my alma mater is one of them.

When I do research on the various college savings funds available for my son, I always run into a few articles that discuss the need to save for retirement over saving for your child’s college. Of course if you don’t have to choose between one or the other, all the better. But for many people, especially in the current economy, sacrificing one for the other is a necessity and according to experts, retirement wins out.

Ghosts of Nuit BlancheI understand this viewpoint given that you can’t take out a loan for retirement like you can for college. But in light of the BMJ article by Roger Dobson, Life expectancy gap between better and less educated in US widens, I wonder if the experts’ opinions would change.

Now, granted the difference in life expectancy was, for some groups, small, ranging from a few months to a few years. (Although for women this number was much greater.) These numbers are still somewhat significant though and the researchers from Harvard even go so far as to say,

… all recent gains in life expectancy at age twenty five have occurred among better educated groups, raising educational differentials in life expectancy by 30%.

So it looks like the motivation to obtain some level of post high-school education is more far reaching than we first thought. Beyond all the old arguments that may have fallen on deaf ears for one reason or another, we can add a longer life to the list of convincing arguments for attending college.

So when it comes to the debate about attending college or when, as a parent, you are trying to decide on the best method to save college money for your child, there is something else to consider. Unfortunately, this means that the rising cost of tuition does affect me, more than I first realized. Considering the current cost of tuition, will it be possible for the average family to send their child (or, gasp, children) to college?

There’s the argument that children can pay for school themselves by taking out loans and working part-time to cover some of their expenses. But that brings up the dilemma of starting out your “adult” life with some serious debt.

So tuition is through the roof and according to this study attending college does more than boast your bank account. It makes me wonder if someday it will only be the rich who have the luxury of getting old.


Dobson, R. (2008). Life expectancy gap between better and less educated in US widens. BMJ, 336(7654), 1155-1155. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.a125

J. R. White

J. R. White is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. She has over five years of experience in education and pedagogy.
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