Higher Ed Bubble

The current situation is unsustainable, with lending risks falling entirely on the students and taxpayers. The rewards go to the universities, which have raised tuition to maximize their share of the flood of cheap money. University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds estimates that college tuition grew at more than double the inflation rate between 1980 and 2010. In fact, college costs rose more steeply than the price of health care.

University administrators saw no need to curb their appetite to raise tuition rates because no matter how high the cost of entry to college, it was always covered by cheap loans, subsidized by the taxpayers. Federal student aid increased by 372 percent between 1985 and 2010, from just under $30 billion to almost $140 billion, according to the Cato Institute’s Neal McCluskey. This is how Uncle Sam has been inflating the higher-education bubble.

Families should be able to weigh the true costs and benefits of college. This can’t be done while Congress continues to “help” students by subsidizing a debt that has reached $1 trillion. The Senate should take up the House bill, which represents a modest first step in deflating the bubble.

Pricking the college loan bubble: Welfare for students isn’t good for student welfare

“How much Ivory does this tower need?”

Who could possibly object to seeing 18- to 22-year-olds take on large debts that must be paid back so that we can keep the college-industrial complex healthy? Have you no decency, sir!?!?!

Lastly there’s higher education. Once again, someone who hasn’t had much time to study policy might reasonably think the key to improving and expanding higher education would be for the federal government to spend more on it. But again, reality differs: federal aid fuels tuition inflation and encourages massive waste.

The connection between aid and prices is somewhat intuitive if you think about it. Basically, if you give people $100 more to buy something, sellers will raise their prices $100. The buyers are no worse off, the sellers are better off, and the only losers are the people who furnished the money. With college aid, we call these losers “taxpayers.”

Of course there’s more to college pricing than aid, but the effect remains.

Studies have found that private colleges raise their prices a dollar for every extra buck students get in Pell Grants, and schools often reduce their own aid when government assistance rises.

Then there are the dismal outcomes that go with giving away college money.

First, only about 58 percent of first-time, full-time students finish a four-year degree within six years at the school where they started, and most who don’t finish by then likely never will.

Next, a third of people with bachelor’s degrees are in jobs that don’t require them.

Education Spending Doesn’t Deliver


Unfortunately, it seems that the future Aldous Huxley predicted in 1932, in Brave New World, is arriving early. Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. However, we do need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT), learn what Members of Congress pay in taxes, and prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.

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