In the opinion section on US World News, Ben Ho and Sita Slavov wrote “The Bright Side of Higher College Tuition,” a piece in which they argue that higher college costs are not a bad thing for most students. They postulate that higher tuition is only a “sticker price,” paid only by wealthy students and that most middle or low income students pay a reduced, more affordable price. They further state that
Policies aimed at controlling increases in tuition will hamper the ability of schools to price discriminate, harming lower-income students by reducing their access to college.
Their reasoning is that by having a higher “sticker price” for the wealthy, more money will be available for financially needy applicants. You can read the article here.
I would like to comment on this with the same gravitas that a Vassar and Columbia economics professor and an American Enterprise Scholar bring to their article, but I’m just a mom. I don’t have graphs and tables and economic models to back my position. Only the real-life effect that high college costs is having on my family. And a whole lot of reading over the last year.
Theoretically, wealthy students should pay more for their college education but we’ve already seen that they actually receive a higher percentage of financial aid than poorer students as a tactic by colleges to lure future donors. Would those wealthy students donate less after graduation if they had to pay full tuition? I suspect not, but everyone loves a bargain and perhaps a financial aid package given to convince a student to attend one school over another pays off in far greater long term gains.
I have a little game I play and I suspect most people do too. The If I Won the Lottery game. If I won the lottery, I would donate generously to the elementary and high schools my children attended because they were generous to us in our time of need. I encourage my children to someday give back to their community and the institutions that help them achieve financial security. But right now, I wish colleges had their priorities straight and directed their financial aid towards those of greatest need.
That’s my view on the economic view of the college sticker price argument. What’s yours?
And on that note, I need to say that I am taking a much-needed break from the blog. The next month will be a time of decisions and dealing with a lot of the emotions associated with them. For now, my family needs my help and focus. I’ll come back to the blog when everything college-related is resolved.