September 7, 2013
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: High Tuition Screws The Rich:
Many, if not most, Columbia students don’t actually pay $61,540 a year. Half of the students entering in 2011-2012 received some institutional aid, making the average net price, including room and board, around $21,274 that year. For low-income students, it was lower still. Students from families making from $30,000 to $48,000 a year paid an average of $6,719; those from families making between $0 and $30,000 paid about $12,018
Columbia is among many, many schools that charge vastly different prices for the same education, depending on students’ income, where they’re from, their academic achievement level, and so on.
This has always been the case, at least to a certain extent. . . . But today’s system takes that pattern to extremes. In the 2007-08 school year, students from families making $100,000 or more paid an average of $30,159 a year in tuition, fees and room and board to attend private four-year colleges and universities, and they paid $16,871 a year to attend public four-years, according to the College Board. Students from families making under $32,500 a year paid $17,050 a year on average to attend private schools and $9,404 a year to attend publics.
In each case, the poorest students are paying slightly more than half of what the richest ones are paying. The numbers are even more startling when you look at tuition apart from room and board. The typical poor student at a public four-year paid no tuition or fees in 2007-08.
This is bad for schools long-term, as I think the sense of being fleeced on tuition is likely to translate into less generous donations later on.