Students have used a variety of options to pay their own way through college over the years, including scholarships, grants, and working a job or two. However, modern day American students, for the most part, have parents who are stepping in and paying for the rising cost of college. The cost of college has risen about 4 percent a year, not controlling for inflation, over the last 20 years. Parents who have saved up for years to put their kid(s) though college are not only dipping into those hard earned funds, but also putting their name down on loans as another method of paying for the expensive education.
A structural-functionalist anthropologist argues that the structure or institutions of a culture never change but the individuals that make up society do. The institution that has remained the same in modern day American culture is college. However, the current conflict that is affecting American society is the rising cost of college. Attending college is an increasingly desired path to take through life, and is becoming seen as more of a necessity rather than a trivial desire, in spite of the rising costs. Individuals in American society have adapted to accommodate the escalating costs. Parents are stepping up and fulfilling the role of money providers for their children for a longer period of time, either giving them the money outright, or taking out loans in their name for their children’s education. Children are no longer financially independent once they turn 18, with their parents stepping in and continuing to help them out for as long as they need. The institution of college has not changed, just how individuals are paying for it.
Cultural and personality theory looks at the valued personalities that are produced by a culture. In American culture the desired personality is someone who is self-sufficient and pays their own way without necessarily relying on others. In the past if someone could not afford college then they did not go, but now there is such a high premium on going to college, people are willing to go and pay unbelievable prices to get an exceptional education. However, paying for college with America’s desired personality of self-sufficiency is becoming harder and harder. American culture has provided a solution for this conflict between what is feasible and what is expected, and people can now take out loans to pay for college. This allows people to still independently pay for college while giving them more time, a grace period, to pay the full sum.
Obtaining a degree in America has become increasingly more costly, but both structural-functionalism and cultural and personality theory argue that American culture has adapted to give people alternate ways of paying, and shouldering that expensive burden.
— Peyton K.
 Leonhardt, David, “College Costs: Rising, Yet Often Exaggerated.” The New York Times. (2013) n. pg. Web. Oct 13, 2013. http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/22/college-costs-rising-yet-often-exaggerated/?_r=0.