Cause and Effect Essay Example: The Cost of College Tuition in the US
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Cause and Effect Essay Outline and Example: The Cost of College Tuition in the US

The cost of a college education in America is perpetually increasing. Some factors do defend the increase as a normal, understandable reality; but others illustrate it having a negative effect on American citizens and the American economy.

Cause and Effect Essay Definition

A cause and effect essay is a type of essay that is written or edited with an objective of explaining why things happen (causes) and what are the consequences (effects) that result from the happening of that event or situation. Additionally, the essay can also have a domino effect or casual chain which is when one event happens, and its effects lead to another event.

A cause and effect essay outline is organized according to the 5-paragraph essay and consists of an introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Cause and Effect Essay Outline

A cause and effect essay outline is usually structured according to the 5-paragraph essay format with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.


An introduction brings forth the background of the topic under discussion. Here, the writer lists out the issues and focus of the essay’s argument. Simply, it describes the purpose of the essay.

Body Paragraph: Description of the ‘Cause’

In this first part of the essay analysis, the writer needs to clearly explain the current situation to the readers so that they understand what he is arguing for. The writer needs to focus on the description of the situation in such a way that the reader is prepared for the ‘effect’ that he is arguing for. For example, if the writer intends to argue that the loss of privacy will lead to loss of individual freedom, then the description should focus on the technologies that will affect a person’s freedom to act.

Body Paragraph: Description of the ‘Effect’

In this section, the writer needs to explain to the reader about the logical steps that they have used to move from cause to effect. For example in our case about freedom above, if the writer wishes to explain that privacy loss results in the loss of individual freedom, then the writer has to explain how privacy and freedom are connected. For example, they can say that increased surveillance on individuals limits their privacy and thus they are no longer free to act independently. In simple, the writer should focus on explaining what the specific effect or effects are, how we move from the cause to the effects, specific illustrations of these effects, and how these particular illustrations are representative of others.

Body Paragraph: Explanation of the meaning of the “cause and effect relationship”

In this section, the writer should argue for the importance of the argument’s findings. This is often done by putting into perspective the short-term and long-term results of the ‘effect’. They should also put forward the recommendations they think are important for the situation. They can also speculate on what might happen in the future if the trend on this situation continues.


In this final part of the essay, the writer just sums up the essay. He or she tells of how our understanding of the larger issue might be changed by the presented analysis. The writer should also appeal to the reader by concluding with how the situation affects them.

The Cost of College Tuition in the United States

While some could write dissertations and even entire books on the cause and effects of the ever-increasing cost of college tuition in the United States, this essay will focus on just a few.

Comparing the average “sticker price” of college tuition in 2016-2017 – ($24,610 for in-state students at a four-year public college; $49,320 for private non-profit four-year college, according to the article on on December 21, 2016, How Much Does it Cost to Study in the US?) – to the price of tuition in 2011-2012 – ($8,240 for public institutions; $28,500 for private ones, according to an article published on on May 5, 2012, The Price Of College Tuition),  the difference is astonishing – even frightening.

And while some factors can defend this increase, there are just as many other factors attributing the increase to something along the lines of corporate greed and to the mucky hands of an over-reaching government. Of course, these numbers do represent the “sticker price” for college tuition, which means students don’t necessarily pay all of that number; however, they do still pay a substantial portion of that price. Also, yes, some students are in fact awarded financial aid, scholarships, and need-based grants (because they have the grades to attend an institution but could never afford it), though a majority of students pay all or close to the sticker price.

So why has the price of education skyrocketed in the last couple decades (result)? The answer, of course, is debatable, but there can be speculations. One is the increase in the cost of living – gas prices are higher than ever, the American government owes trillions of dollars to China, so we are seeing an increase in taxes on its citizens, which affects industries as well as academic institutions. This means any collegiate institution, whether private or public, pays their employees more and more each year in order to keep them, or else they risk losing them (cause 1).

Also, it is appropriate to take into account the price it takes a college or university to create, fund and sustain the kind of technology needed in the 21st century. To prepare students for a working world that is highly dependent on technology – the Internet, digital and social media, email, and other forms of technology – an institution must provide its students with the latest innovations in technology, with up-to-date computers and a robust wireless network – none of which is at all cheap to have and maintain. To that institution, it is worth having because, without this technology, a student is likely to attend another institution where this technology is readily available and more valued. But, not only is web-based learning an attraction to the student, it is also a necessity to educate students on how to succeed in the world today. So to compensate for this expense, colleges probably find it necessary to increase tuition (cause 2).

Lastly, to illustrate an opposition to the increase in the price of American college tuition, it can be said that a large portion of this increase is due to nothing more than corporate greed (cause 2). Does a college or university president truly need a salary of over $1 million? Not at all. An article posted on, The 10 Highest Paid Private College Presidents: Chronicle Of Higher Education List, on Dec. 5, 2011, lists 10 college presidents all making well over $1 million. No college president should ever be treated like the CEO of a Fortune 500 organization, especially one that is designed to educate its students to become successful, intelligent and highly educated citizens. As students are forced to pay more and more for a college degree, those at the top (the presidents of the college or university, for example) are accumulating substantial sums of money to do exactly what they did 20, 30 years ago. A college president is doing nothing to deserve a salary of this kind. But the price of tuition still perpetually increases.

Looking at the effects of the increase in American college tuition, there are several disadvantages. Students realize the need for a college degree in American society, so they will do whatever possible to fund their education. This, of course, means that most students will graduate with some kind of debt: vast amounts of money they will owe that has accumulated through student loans; this means that in a struggling economy with fewer jobs than ever, they are cast out into the world penniless and owing quite a bit money, and they could be in debt for much of their adult lives. This is a disadvantage for those who find sub-par, underpaying jobs, which is much of the case today. This only hurts the economy, the banks lending students the money for their education and ultimately the government who is dependent on the banks; when students default on their loans, it ultimately hurts everyone – and only the wealthy win (consequence 1).

Also, some students will abandon the notion of attending college since they can’t afford it, or they will attend colleges in foreign countries that offer more affordable education. The ones without a college education, it has been proven, will generally make less money in their lifetime, which hurts the economy and that person’s overall quality of life; and the ones attending schools in other countries are giving their money to those countries when they could be staying home and investing their money in America businesses; this in turn is and will be detrimental to the American economy (consequence 2).

In conclusion, the cost of a college education in America is perpetually increasing. Some factors do defend the increase as a normal, understandable reality; but others illustrate it having a negative effect on American citizens and the American economy. So who is this increase in tuition really helping? It surely isn’t the young people of America.

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