American U is an expensive schoolThe DC metro area has some 30 odd schools. Some of I had heard about before I arrived here, like Georgetown, Howard, George Mason and Univ of Maryland (Go Terps!). I did know about American as it was the school I briefly looked at when looking around for a graduate history program. Brief as in I saw the price tag and never gave it another fleeting thought.
I inwardly cringe when I talk to people going to American who are also struggling financially. I keep thinking of the associate I knew, whose parents were always struggling, and she went to American and had to drop out just short of graduation. Complete waste of money. If she was going to a state school the grants and other aid would have covered her. When reading today's op-ed bit in the Post, I was a little sympathetic of the author till I read that she was attending American. I disagree with her that graduate school is for the wealthy. That is the beauty of state education and the importance of making sure local state (or District) governments support higher education. Compared to private education state schools are great value for money. Also, several years after you've gotten your degree no one gives a crap of where you've gone to school anyways.
As far as funding graduate education goes it depends on the program. Society needs some degrees more than others and some programs produce more graduates than there are jobs for, and so it is not in society's best interest to indiscriminately produce a lot of specialists. Depending on the program, there may be graduate assistantships (GA) with tuition reimbursement and a stipend, scholarships and grants. Then there are loans. Those really make you think and ask, is it worth it? And if you are not willing to invest in yourself, why should anyone else? I made the investment, and it was worth it. Also it helps to avoid the expensive school in the expensive neighborhood.