February 25, 2015, BY Kathryn Kopchik

Robert Archibald and David Feldman will give the talk, "How Do We Value a College Degree? Challenges Facing Higher Education in the 21st Century," on Tuesday, March 31, at 7 p.m. in Trout Auditorium of the Vaughan Literature Building at Bucknell University.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy (BIPP).

Economists from the College of William and Mary, Archibald and Feldman are co-authors of Why Does College Cost So Much?

In their talk, they will address what has driven college costs upward and whether a college degree is still worth the cost and effort.

In a world of rising income inequality and stagnant family income, cost increases put extra pressure on the residential college model. Archibald and Feldman will discuss the real challenges faced by schools, families, and policy makers.

"Many accounts of rising college cost stress wasteful prestige competition, faculty tenure, country club amenities, and easy government money as the fuel for tuition hikes," according to the authors. "We argue instead that broad technological forces are the primary cause of rising cost pressure in higher education and in many similar personal service industries."

Colleges and families alike face difficult tradeoffs and choices, including the value of a liberal arts education, whether it is worth taking on a substantial debt burden or better to seek out lower cost community college first.

A college degree isn't a guarantee of financial security; yet for most young people, earning a college credential remains the single best investment they can make.

Archibald and Feldman are co-authoring another book, tentatively titled Turbulent Waters: The Future of America's Colleges and Universities.

Robert ArchibaldArchibald is Chancellor Professor of Economics at the College of William and Mary where he teaches macroeconomics, statistics and a seminar on the economics of higher education. The recipient of degrees from the University of Arizona and Purdue University, he has served as  research economist at the Office of Prices of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

David FeldmanFeldman, who has just stepped down as chair of the economics department at the College of William and Mary, also is a professor of public policy for the College's Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy. The recipient of degrees from Duke University and Kenyon College, he previously taught at Colgate University and at Duke University.