We live in an era in which college-dropouts-turned-successful-tech-entrepreneurs are celebrated, provoking debate over the value of higher education. Judging by the numbers, the role of higher education in America's future seems secure. An estimated 20.2 million students are attending U.S. colleges and universities this year – an increase of 4.9 million since 2000. By the end of this academic year, these institutions will have awarded 1.8 million Bachelor's degrees, 802,000 Master's degrees and 179,000 Doctorate degrees (Source: Digest of Education statistics).
But college is expensive and increasingly so. The College Board claims that the average cost of tuition and fees for 2015–2016 was $32,405 for private colleges, $9,410 for state residents at public colleges and $23,893 for out-of-state residents at public universities. These numbers are projected to rise annually.