Giving Compass' Take:

• EdSurge interviews Sandy Baum, fellow enrolled in the Education Policy Program at the Urban Institute to discuss the approaches towards decreasing college tuition for students. 

• Is the bigger problem with college tuition is that it's a very large investment and not enough people who are making that investment are graduating?  

• Read about how a panel of schools and start-ups discuss hacking affordability of college tuition. 

The college affordability crisis is a familiar story to most Americans. A simplified version often goes that state funding for higher-ed institutions has decreased dramatically over the years, which has translated into massive tuition hikes for students and their families.

Sandy Baum, a fellow in the Education Policy Program at the Urban Institute, watches the issue—and its proposed solutions—closely.

EdSurge talked with Baum about these issues—and about how innovative approaches are or aren’t helping solve the college affordability crisis.

EdSurge: Tuition has skyrocketed but we know there are a lot of additional costs associated with college. One criticism of free community college programs is that they don't account for these expenses always. So from your perspective, are these free programs free enough?

There are lots of weaknesses to free community college programs. One of them is that free means tuition-free. It does not usually mean that your whole budget is covered. The reality is that for low-income students, a very large percentage of low and moderate-income students get their tuition covered at community colleges even without these programs because they are eligible for any say, grant aids.

You've said before that the type of a degree that a student earns is part of the college-cost equation. Could you explain that a bit more?

If you buy something that's cheap but you end up throwing it in the garbage can the next day, it was really not worth it. And the same thing holds for a college. If you just pick the cheapest program, but it turns out to be a lousy school—you don't graduate or you graduate and you can't get a job with your degree—then it doesn't matter how little you paid for it, it wasn't worth it. It wasn't affordable.

Read the full article about college tuition by Sydney Johnson at EdSurge