Tuesday, August 23, 2016

“Tuition” isn’t really what college costs

Here’s a new take on “tuition”:

At many (maybe most) colleges, the tuition “sticker price” isn’t really the per capita figure for what it costs for the institution to keep its doors open. In any event, most students don’t pay the sticker price, so what’s the information value of the “tuition” number?

Danielle Allen, at WashingtonPost.com, recently wrote that the posted annual tuition at your college “is as good as useless.”

She says: At elite colleges and universities, the actual cost of educating any given student for a year is greater than the “sticker price.” For the 2014-2015 school year, Amherst College calculated a cost per student of $95,600.”

Ooops, sorry, I just lost my lunch. It seems to me to be beyond all reasonable question that at most colleges it shouldn’t cost anything close to $95,600 to keep Maryanne or Juan in a decent room, well-fed, with access to the internet and a decent library, and give him/her a decent education for nine months.

Allen also notes:
Tuition decisions made by elite colleges and universities are actually decisions about whom to subsidize. The lower the sticker price, the more the well-to-do are being subsidized for an education that costs well above the sticker price. The higher the sticker price, the more the subsidy is shifted to the less well-off.”

Let’s hold for another time the discussion about who’s paying for the subsidy (alumni, taxpayers) and the issues that make student loans unmentionable in some polite company.

Read Allen’s complete take on tuition here.

In simplistic terms, here’s the point: college costs too much and a college education increasingly has a dubious cost/benefit rationale.

Allen says the tuition/sticker price is a useless piece of information.

Is there any way to have some straight talk about the desired and presumed benefits of getting a college degree?

\>>>>>  UPDATE  <<<<<
Here's a current comment on college expenses from Mary Bromley at Cornerstone University:

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

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