India’s Families Worry About College Affordability

Rising cost of education is a concern to more than just Americans. According to The Times of India, a new survey found that being able to afford their children’s college education is a growing problem for Indian parents. The survey was published on the heels of an announcement by the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry [...]

Rising cost of education is a concern to more than just Americans. According to The Times of India, a new survey found that being able to afford their children’s college education is a growing problem for Indian parents.

The survey was published on the heels of an announcement by the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry to raise undergraduate tuition at all Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) campuses by as much as 80%. Although private colleges and university tuition is also on the upswing in the country, until now, IITs – which are government-run – have been considered the affordable option.

Earlier, the fees for Kendriya Vidyalaya students increased three-fold from Rs 4,500 to Rs 12,000 annually. The KV fee hike impacts 11 lakh students in 1,090 schools. The last fee hike in both cases took place in 2008-09, and has been long overdue. he decision to hike fees for undergraduate courses from Rs 50,000 to Rs 90,000 annually was taken on Monday at the meeting of the IIT Council. In the case of IIT, the student fees include only 30% of the total operational cost of the institute and comes at a time when the premier tech institutes are working to become self-sufficient.

Fee payments now make up a substantial amount of the family’s household budget. More than 2/3rds of families in India spend 50% or more of their monthly salaries on their children’s education, with school tuition, mandatory academic materials and extra-curricular activities making up the bulk of that expense.

However, even with the most recent hikes, tuition at government-run colleges and universities remains a fraction of that charged by privately run and operated schools. A student at a private school spends Rs 893 a month, on average, on school, and school-related expenses. A student at a government-run school pays only Rs 275 over the same period.

The survey highlights that the rising cost of education, has become a major cause of worry for parents. Majority of parents spend on average more than Rs 18 lakh-20 lakh in raising a child by the time their teen graduates from high school. Aggregate public spending on education during the 11th Plan period is estimated at Rs1244,797 crore for both the Centre and states taken together. About 43% of the public expenditure on education was incurred for elementary education, 25% for secondary education and the balance 32% for higher education.

Of the total spent on education by the Central government, a full half went towards covering the operating costs of institutions of higher education. Nearly 40% was spent on elementary education, with 12% going towards secondary schools.

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