This is an opinion...
The loss in investments was bad enough, but the past 15 years has seen a huge increase in investment in the physical plant of many schools. Stadiums, fieldhouses and other sports facilities, and theaters and other overbuilding of science labs and technical centers. All in the interests of education, but also much bling... to satisfy the alumni and to make the schools more attractive to undergraduates.
The expense extends far beyond the initial cost, as upkeep, maintenance and staffing are all ongoing and eventually increasing.
The growth of college/university cities and towns has been exponential in the past few decades.. partly as a result of the improvements, and partly because of the efforts of the schools to make facilities available to the public.
Naturally, the concurrent rise in tuition is leaving the educable youth in a tough spot... either going into deep debt to finance a degree, or dropping out because of inability to pay.
The market losses being followed by a slowing of alumni donations, and the increase of fixed expenses... salaries, staffing, and infrastructure, are leading to an unsustainable budgeting process. The two edged sword, is made even worse by the failing student loan program, that will eventually be funded by the government... you and I.
The current full cost (all expenses) for a four year degree at my own college,
is in the vicinity of $230,000. Fortunately, the Alumni Fund insures some very liberal scholarships for qualified applicants, and in this case, the excellence in the education process is not compromised, but many colleges that are underfunded, must lower standards to attract those who can pay, rather than selecting those who will benefit most. (Benefit both the individual and the nation.)
There is no question that the United States has an extraordinary education system. The question that must be answered is whether it can become affordable.
Yes, I know the subject here is endowment drops, and investment returns, but the wider concern is the future of higher education.
One of the "Lucky Few"