January 12, 2014

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Financial Aid Puts A Squeeze On The Middle Class.

Defenders of the higher-ed status quo are fond of defending sky high tuition by noting that “almost nobody pays full price for college.” This may have been true, but at many public schools “almost nobody” is beginning to cover an an increasingly large group of people. Although the concept of “set-asides,” where tuition rises on wealthier students to subsidize financial aid programs for poorer ones, is nothing new, cutbacks in state aid have decreased the money available to schools to the point where students of increasingly modest means are being asked to pay for these subsides. And as the WSJ reports, parents are becoming incensed. . . .

This is a difficult problem. Nobody wants a school system where it is impossible for the poor to go to college, yet it strikes many as deeply unfair that only slightly better-off students who are struggling to pay for college themselves are being asked to subsidize their education.

As I say in my new book — say did I mention that I’ve got a book out? — nobody likes to feel like a sucker.

Related: Is The College Of The Future In New Hampshire? “The result is a system which strives for efficiency and cost-effectiveness above all else. Classes are highly standardized, generally taught by low-paid adjunct professors who serve more as guides than teachers, and students’ activities are closely monitored by programs that analyze data to determine where professors should spend most of their time. It may not sound inspiring, but it’s cheap: a four-year degree costs only $35,000, and the school is already experimenting with new ways to lower the price still further.”