This is the age old argument of blue vs white collar. Why does my boss make more money than me just because he is management and I'm not ?? It's because companies and the military have placed value on that degree and what it may have taken to earn it. That value is in terms of compensation. If you want someone with particular skills, and you as a collective unit (the military or company) have determined that a four year college degree is the prerequisite, then you must be prepared to provide incentive for those people to earn the degree and receive the commission. Those incentives are higher pay or benefits.

It's supply and demand, folks. Not rocket science. To be an officer (not CWO/LDO) you must have a degree. Do that, we'll pay you more and give you better living conditions. Don't do it, and you don't get the extras.