> It should be significantly cheaper to get a degree in a field where their is demand -
> the STEM degrees - and should cost significantly more for all other degrees.
You've got that backwards. More demand leads to *higher* prices, not lower ones. In every respect, STEM majors should be paying more than humanities majors, not less:
*STEM faculty cost more (often 2x to 3x more) than humanities faculty.
*STEM labs and equipment cost far more than plain classrooms.
*STEM coursework is usually more expensive.
and most important:
*STEM graduates make more money, and can therefore afford to pay back more student loan debt.
And why is there a shortage of native STEM workers in the USA in the first place? It isn't because of high tuition, or lack of ability; it's because STEM wages have been artificially lowered by the availability of immigrants to fill the jobs more cheaply, and the corporate culture that reinforces immigrant use. Harvard economist George Borjas and others have shown repeatedly that both unskilled and skilled immigrants to this country depress the wages in any occupation they enter, to the tune of a 3% drop in wages for every 10% increase in workforce. What percentage of STEM work in the US is being done by immigrants these days? And that doesn't even factor in the depressing economic effects of offshoring.
No, the market for STEM workers has been artificially short-circuited by the lobbying of corporations intent on importing a cheaper foreign labor pool, and this has resulted in lower STEM pay and therefore lower interest in STEM education and careers by natives. There is no STEM shortage, except the one created by artificial means in the pursuit of corporate greed. The stock answer from most economists is that such immigration is in our national interest since it grows the overall economy--but the problem is, all of that new growth goes exclusively into the pockets of the corporate owners of capital and the immigrant workers themselves, while native workers see their pay decrease by that 3% per 10% increase in workforce. That's why real-world inflation-adjusted earnings for working and middle class Americans have decreased since the 1970s. That's why the gap between rich and poor increases steadily (25 years ago the richest 1% of Americans took home 12% of all income, while today that 1% takes in almost 25% of all income; 25 years ago the richest 1% owned 33% of all assets and capital, while today they own over 40%).
Americans need to wake up to the fact that extreme immigration (we take in more legal immigrants *than every other country combined*) is the root of all of our current economic woes. Our elite classes of both political affiliations love it, the Democrats because they see votes and multiculturalism and the Republicans because they see cheap labor. But while it's good for the moneyed elites it is directly responsible for the worsening fortunes of the American working class and the ongoing disappearance of the middle class.
The sad part is the educated classes have known about this situation for a long time, and the average American may not know the facts but he feels them viscerally--Americans have been overwhelmingly for smaller immigration numbers for decades. Until they start pushing it as a forefront issue though, nothing will be done. An old but excellent book on the situation was published by Random House in 1995, and is now available for free from the author:
At the time it was a bestseller and was as widely discussed as *The Bell Curve*, but unlike that other controversial book not one challenge to its facts and numbers was ever substantiated.