Americans, compared with people in other nations, spend a huge amount on college tuition (and related costs). The higher-ed establishment likes to say that the U.S. is as successful as it is because we “invest” so much in higher ed, but the truth is that only a nation that was already successful could afford such a wasteful and dysfunctional system as we have.
In today’s Martin Center article, Ross Marchand, senior fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, pins the blame for the high cost of college here on federal subsidies that allow colleges and universities to spend more and charge more.
Marchand argues that one of the reasons why costs stay so high is that states don’t compete on price for students. He writes, “A promising way is to increase colleges’ competition for students. Normally, goods and services face enough competition to keep costs in check. The U.S. higher education system, however, isn’t a typical market because of the vastly different costs of in-state versus out-of-state tuition.”
Is there any way around that? Yes, Marchand says. States could and should enter into compacts whereby students from other states would be entitled to the same lower tuition rates as are given to in-state students.
Could that work? Marchand points out that it already does, on a small scale: “These kinds of compacts already exist, but so far savings are meager. In New England states, participating students only save around $4,000 a semester even though in-state/out-of-state tuition differences can total in the tens of thousands of dollars.”
If the feds were to weigh in on the side of such compacts, that would kick-start the move toward tuition equalization.
Of course, lowering tuition doesn’t automatically reduce wasteful spending, but with fewer bucks coming in, schools might have to cut some of their needless expenditures — such as for “diversity and inclusion” administrators.
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