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The average debt burden of graduating students at my school is about $27,000 — but that figure applies only to the 64 percent whose financial affairs the school keeps minute tabs on. All the university knows about the remaining 36 percent is that full payment of tuition is somehow coming from them. My informal conversations with students leave me with the impression that only about half the students among the 36 percent come from parents and grandparents who can write checks for the full sticker price. The rest — about a fifth of all the students — carry the full burden, with colossal indebtedness and staggering personal sacrifice.
Of course, the easy availability of subsidized loan programs boosts indebtedness even more by pushing tuition higher, as the colleges discover more “costs” year after year. But the worst practice comes in the guise of philanthropy.
As economists have been saying for years (again to no avail — another sign that much academic research is either useless or ignored), the practice of individually tailored aid packages is a form of price discrimination. Like other monopolies, the colleges are able to determine what an individual student will pay and to charge just that amount.
The practice could land an ordinary businessman in jail, but the higher education monopolists enjoy a special dispensation accorded them by liberal politicians. As tuition is inflated beyond most students’ means, price discrimination gets more minute and intrusive and complex, pushing up administrative costs that help spark more tuition hikes, with the good intentions of redistributive financial aid dissolving into a languid sanctimony.
The students themselves, meanwhile, are dazzled and flattered by the attention they get with their elaborate financial aid packages — beguiled as well by the dubious notion that the world owes them a living and that someone else should pay for the choices they make.
Perhaps the economists are being treated like Cassandras because runaway college tuition — transparent in its causes and effects — is not really an economic problem. It’s a moral problem.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?