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Why Does College Cost So Much?

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Two William & Mary professors tackle the "hot-button issue" of the skyrocketing cost of higher education in a new book to be published by Oxford University Press next year. Here, Fool contributor Rich Smith shares the answers he got from his former economics professor David Feldman, co-author of the book with colleague Robert Archibald.

Why does college cost so much? If you have kids in college -- or kids, period -- in America today, the question's more than academic. It can mean having to make a choice between getting your child a college degree or planning a comfortable retirement for yourself.

As college tuition costs soar, a lot of us wonder why. What's wrong with these people that they keep raising prices that are already unaffordable? And what can we do about it? I sat down with Professor Feldman to talk over these issues, and more.

Rich Smith: So, Professor, let's tackle the question head-on -- does college cost too much?

David Feldman: Not "too" much. "So" much. What we've tried to do in this book is go back over the history of the last 60 years and examine college from an aerial view that is rooted in broader U.S. economic history, comparing cost trends in the higher education "industry" to those of other similar industries. We take each of the common arguments against college costs -- that colleges are dysfunctional, that they engage in arms races with their peers, and that give "Country Club U." amenities to their students -- and examine whether they hold water, whether college costs really are rising faster than they should, and if so, why?

Smith: And ...?

Feldman: And what we've found may surprise you: College costs are rising faster than the inflation rate. But that isn't because they're "country clubs" -- it's more because they're "prep schools."

To prepare an undergraduate these days requires a lot more expensive stuff, like high-intensity lasers and big computing resources, than it did in the past. It costs money, sure, but our students demand it because their potential future employers demand it.

Nor is higher education alone in seeing higher costs. Lots of other industries show trends in cost appreciation that mirror those found in higher education, and there are two key reasons for this -- neither of which supports the "country club" critics. If you look at the trends in education costs at not-for-profit four-year colleges, at two-year community colleges, and at for-profit educational institutions like Apollo Group (Nasdaq: APOL  ) , they're virtually identical, up across the board. Yet you don't have the same "gold-plating" at a two-year community college or for-profit institution as critics suggest afflicts four-year, on-campus universities. So clearly, there's something else driving costs upwards.

To understand what's happening, you need to understand that college is a service. As opposed to manufacturing, where labor is just one input in pricing and improvements in productivity generally lead to lower costs, labor is the primary input in service industries like higher education. This makes college especially vulnerable to cost disease ...

Smith: Hold up a sec. "Cost disease?"

Feldman: Right. That's the real culprit behind the rising cost of college. You see, in a labor market, when one worker's wages rise, so do wages for other workers -- because employers compete to attract them. How does this work in higher education? Improvements in productivity can lead to higher wages at firms like Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) . But they also raise wages at colleges that must compete for a limited supply of labor.

The problem lies in the fact that when HP raises wages, it can offset higher labor cost with improvements on its other input costs -- more energy-efficient machinery, better manufacturing processes. As a result, PC prices actually get cheaper every year. Colleges are different because their primary input cost -- labor -- is terribly resistant to productivity improvements.

Example: In 1960, students paid roughly the same for tuition and fees as they did for room and board. Today, you see tuition and fees together exceeding room and board by perhaps two to four times. So tuition has been growing much faster.

Why is this? You can make the teaching process more "efficient" by using Blackboard (Nasdaq: BBBB  ) software and the like. But generally speaking, every move you make to decrease the amount of time a professor spends with students is viewed not as "improved productivity" but as less personal service.

And so costs rise faster than inflation in any service-intensive industry -- higher education, law, or medicine. This is exacerbated by the fact that ever since the 1980s, workers with college degrees and even higher levels of education have become much more expensive than workers without such degrees. This accelerates the rise in the cost of any industry that uses a lot of this well-educated labor, and directly leads to increased costs for service-oriented industries like higher education.

Smith: So what's your take on last week's news that the government is slashing compensation for executives at AIG (NYSE: AIG  ) , Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) , and the other bailout recipients? Would you expect this to depress wages for university professors, for example, and lower college costs?

Feldman: Actually, no. Remember our aerial view! Compensation in finance has soared relative to compensation in many other industries that use similarly educated people. Ask engineering grads. They'll tell you. What happens in one industry, like finance, is not likely to have a big impact on higher-education wages unless it is part of a much larger market movement toward lower compensation for highly educated workers. I don't see that at present.

Smith: So what is the solution?

Feldman: There really isn't any -- this is a solution in search of a problem. You see, the fact is that the same productivity growth that's pushing education costs up by driving wages higher ... drives wages higher. This provides the income needed to pay the higher costs of higher education.

Our research shows that despite the rapid increase in education's cost, over the long haul, higher wages mean families wind up with more money in real dollar terms after paying the tuition bills.

Smith: Good to know. But let's see if we can help our readers keep even more money. From your vantage point at the college, can you see any "bargains" in higher education? How can parents of soon-to-be-college students best spend their dollars wisely?

Feldman: You can get a fine education at many of the nation's flagship public universities, where tuition remains quite low compared to elite private universities. But remember, list price tuition is paid by a small fraction of students at private universities. Between federal financial aid and discounted tuition that most universities offer on a "need" or "merit" basis, very few students pay the list price.

Smith: Professor, before we close, I'd like to ask if you see the high price of higher education shutting out qualified students. Will the 21st century see U.S.-based companies like Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) starved of talent?

Feldman: It could happen. While our research shows that a rise in the cost of higher education is not a problem on the whole, it is a problem in certain instances -- namely in how it discourages poorer students from seeking a higher education.

Over the past 30 years, income in the U.S. has become increasingly polarized. More people are becoming very rich -- and more very poor. The hollowing of the middle class is an even bigger affordability issue than cost disease. But we believe that a few common-sense changes to how we distribute financial aid could make real progress towards making college more accessible to those who need it most.

Start with the FAFSA application for federal student aid, which all students seeking Pell Grants much fill out. Currently, students must fill out and submit a FAFSA indicating their income and assets, then apply to colleges, and then find out how much financial aid they qualify for. It's absurd to require students to apply to colleges before they know which colleges they can afford.

Second, the government can improve access to higher education and reduce the price of it (not the cost, mind you, but the price students pay directly) by increasing financial aid. We realize that increased government spending is not a popular subject these days, but if legislators were to offer a universal, standard stipend -- and make this the standard student financial aid package -- this could gain broad support and improve access to higher education across society.

Such financial aid, by the way, would be only an incremental increase over the substantial, but extremely disorganized, system of federal programs that currently exists. As such, it would not cost much more than we are already spending on financial aid. In fact, Prof. Archibald and I have developed new evidence suggesting that increases in federal financial aid lower the list price tuition. It could be that extra federal aid reduces each school's need to discount tuition for its own needy students, and this allows the school to cut the list price tuition faced by everyone else.

The changes we suggest in the federal financial aid system would not cost much more than the current system -- really, they would just make it more straightforward, easier to understand, and more reliable for the students.

What do you think about the cost of college, and how are you handling it? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Nearly two decades after leaving William & Mary, Fool contributor Rich Smith still dares to eat the occasional peach. And he does his writing clothed in white flannel pajamas. He does not, however, own shares of any company named above. Apollo Group, Intel, and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Blackboard is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

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  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 10:30 AM, Bamafan68 wrote:

    Interesting take from the college professors: rising college education costs aren't a problem, they're a solution.

    Paying for college education is a big worry for a lot of Americans, just as paying for health care is. I wonder if we're going to see any higher education reform come out of this administration? Nah, most college professors are Democrats, so it probably won't happen.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 11:11 AM, jek9fool wrote:

    One question not asked by Rich

    Why do textbooks cost so much??? Because Professor/School $Profit$ is the simple answer.

    The cost of textbooks is ridiculous. Many Professors/Universities require students to buy 'current' textbooks (after a minor rewrite - ie 9th edition) - and the costs can range from $200-$350 per textbook. 4 classes = $1000. That is what it cost for 1 quarter of tuition (public school) in the 1980's. New books cost between $20 and $40 dollars back then, and you could pick up a used one for $5 to $10.

    Bookstores or co-ops are discouraged from selling used books that are not 'current' edition.

    Congress has talked about this issue... but never comes through - like usual.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 11:22 AM, creek138 wrote:

    College isn't expensive. You're just doing it wrong.

    I started at one of the bigger named schools down here in NC...and hated it. I didn't find the growth opportunities nor the teaching quality I had expected to get for the price I paid. My parents dropped 20k in that school, for the education I could have received at a community college.

    I ended up going to a few others, taking summer classes or getting into school and then having an ardurous time getting the classes I needed to finish my studies. So finally we gave up and tried the CC's.

    The community college I went to had professors who really were compassionate about the learning experience and saw opportunity where, frankly, the state professors couldn't care less whether I understood the information or passed the class. Granted, not all CC's are the same, so do your research before you jump into anyschool.

    So I ended up getting my tranfer degree and got a decent job from it.

    But the ambition to get a 4 year degree never left...I had known since i was very young what I wanted to be and it requires it. That and I do enjoy education. So, although I was skeptical about going to another university, I tried yet again. I found an online school through the NC University System. I needed a few classes to transfer directly into matriculation, so I took them at another online school...mentioned above which was COSTLY at $2000 a class! Then I tried for the UNC online school the next semester, which was roughly the same amount for the semester as one class was for the other online school. These guys, however, too failed me and were not able to place me in the classes I needed. They knew they screwed up bad so they refunded my money. It seemed like I just wasn't meant to get my 4 year so I gave up, for what I thought, was completely. I decided to just learn the info without the degree and sought out opencourseware at MIT. Which I still recommend for self starters.

    But then I read in a magazine I subscribe to about this wonderful new not-for-profit univeristy that was cost effective, recognized, and learn at your own pace. Basically, for roughly 50% of the classes, if you know the material, you can place out of the class and receive credit. I've done this for numerous classes. The other 50% you do research. I was able to take 33 credit hours last 6 month "term" (as they call it) and this semester I'll be taking around 27 credits and finally graduating. And the cost: less than 3000 a term. Cheaper than most State universities. WGU hasn't increased tuition in 7 of the past 8 years, and there enrollment has skyrocketed. If you don't need the structure of a classroom, then I highly recommend it.

    Listen, unless you're going to Ivy League, it really doesn't matter where you go as long as you have the degree. Sure, online learning has it's classrooms, little social interaction, no football. But if youre self driven and are looking really to get an education...I recommend taking a look.

    It took me 10 years to get my 4 year, and was held back for too many reasons to count. I took the long route, but if I were to do it all over again, I would have chosen the community college route for 2 years and then WGU. I would have paid less than $15,000 and received a something extremely valuable in the workplace and in education.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 12:18 PM, FinanciallySMRT wrote:

    Tertiary Fees is becoming to be a concern worldwide. This is gotten so high because of what Mr. Feldman has explained. The usage of Technology and the constant demands are pushing these colleges to be more efficient and so they are passing on the expenses on the students. This should not hinder us from achieving our goals but should instead motivate us to spend more time in becoming successful.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 12:20 PM, cjb44 wrote:

    One issue I'd like to see addressed is the notorious "endowment" problem. Someone should explain why schools aren't using their endowments to keep prices down. Many schools have enough money in their endowment to cover their budgets for several years without charging a dime in tuititon or taking a government grant. Why not use some of that money to keep the costs down to students.

    Then there is the "tax" on well to do families. When a private school charges $30,000 for tuition but discounts it for 80% of the students, what they are really doing is overcharging the well to do families who don't qualify for a tuition break. Heck, let them pay more, their parents probably worked for AIG. I can see the educational elites saying.

    But of course professors are overpaid. They are there for status. Lecturing while having their TAs do the tough work while they work on the latest upgrade to the over priced text book you'll be forced to buy because the 9th edition is lacking 2 pages from the 10th editition. Sorry, no used books for you.

    The education racket is amazing. Of course professors are going to say they are worth it. But where else are they going to go? Into the real world and get jobs that demand results?

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 12:34 PM, fritzvandover wrote:

    This is a great article that hits at the heart of the reason that college has become so expensive, which is that moves to make colleges "efficient" move the college experience away from what most Americans want in their higher ed. experience; smaller classes, activities outside of the classroom, etc.

    I work in Higher Ed. and am about to finish my Ph.D. in Higher Ed. Policy, so I read about this subject a lot. What I've come to learn is that most industries that have been able to keep costs flat or below inflation over the past, say, 50 years have been able to externalize parts of their process to cheaper providers. Maybe it's manufacturing sent to China, or raw resources gotten from a cheaper foreign source. Higher Education can't shed its more-expensive functions (mainly the people that is has to pay for and the physical plant that it has to maintain), so the costs keep climbing.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 12:59 PM, outoffocus wrote:

    Why does college cost so much? One simple answer: Student Loans....

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 1:01 PM, weg915 wrote:

    The income needed was not generated through higher wages but by the same mechanism that drove all recent growth - borrowing.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 1:24 PM, outoffocus wrote:

    I just don't understand how two freaking economics professors can't understand the basic concepts of supply and demand.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 1:28 PM, weg915 wrote:

    Willful ignorance.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 1:45 PM, jerseytix wrote:

    The problem is that financial aid has increased. And basic economics teaches that if you artificially lower the price of something (through federal grants and subsidized loans), you will a) increase demand and b) lower the quality of the product. So we have more people going to college and getting a lower-quality education.

    The big issue, long-term, created by this is that the high-wage jobs at HP mentioned by the professors now require a graduate degree as well. So not only have you spent up to $200K on an undergraduate degree (not counting opportunity costs), but now you have to tack another $100K or more for your graduate degree, with another $100K in opportunity costs if you go full-time for 2-3 years. So if someone from the Northeast wants a high paying job and a nice house for the spouse and kids, you're often talking a 600-800 thousand dollar outlay to get that life started. Not a good sign in a country that needs to unwind its debt.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 1:45 PM, RetiredGamer wrote:

    Am I reading this right?!

    It sounds like Feldman is claiming that the cost of tuition is justified based on the idea that as its cost has gone up, so have graduate wages.

    That's the largest load of BS I've heard in a long time. Graduate wages have very publicly plummeted over the past decade while the cost of getting a degree have sky-rocketed. Adjusted for inflation, degree-holders make less today than they did in the 90's. I graduated 6 years ago, when school costs were considerably less. My monthly loan payments are the 2nd largest expense on my budget and have a dramatic negative effect on my lifestyle. If I graduated with today's college costs, I'd literally be unable to stay afloat. My loans would wildy surpass any financial benefits getting my degree would have provided. I don't feel like this article is doing much to address that situation.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 3:22 PM, bltslfk wrote:

    Let me find a polite way to say this.... Poppycock!! First, let's follow the thought that cost increases are based on wage increases.

    A former co-worker in his early 70s attended a good private college and the total cost for 4 years was about equal to his first year's salary. I, in my 50s, attended a good public college and my total cost for 4 years was about equal to my first year's salary. My son graduated from a good private college a few years ago. The total cost for 4 years was about $180k. Had he gone to a good public college, it would have been more like $100k. Was his starting salary remotely near either of those numbers? How is that cost tied to wages?

    As an undergrad, was he exposed to remarkable, expensive technology we didn't have back in the day? No. Was there anything about the quality of his experience to explain the cost? No. Did we qualify for any financial aid as a middle class family who saved all our adult lives so our kids could go to school? Not a dime.

    The cost is up because the importance of getting a college degree is up. The universities realize they can squeeze us until we bleed and they do it. It's a simple motive - greed. Not complicated at all and certainly doesn't require a book to explain it.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 3:40 PM, canonian wrote:

    Check out Google Project 10100

    Scroll down to:

    Make educational content available online for free

    Just as the internet has taken the control away from media like: news, audio, video and a host of other controlled content and leveled the playing field it will do the same for education.

    There will be the college bubble that some pay for then a huge deflation leaving those who paid a ton of money wondering what in the heck they were thinking.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 3:46 PM, KKnese wrote:

    Two more thoughts. First, why does a college need lasers? What are they used for, a science class? If a student really needs to see a laser in action, couldn't he get that same class from another college through the consortium program? Not every college needs the latest and greatest equipment. Second, why does a college have to be everything to everybody? Why can't they specialize? MIT specializes in tech, and Juliard specializes in music. The Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD to us locals) specializes in art. GM got into trouble because their product offerings were too broad. Specialize in your core competence and throw the junk out the window!

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 4:02 PM, vriguy wrote:

    Nobody has mentioned the real reason - the tenure system. Too many tenured professors get away with teaching only one course a year and have little or no research funding - so the University is stuck paying them about 100K including benefits. If 50 students take their course, the University needs to charge each one 2K. Throw in fixed costs of facilities, the overhead of administration (another thing colleges have too much of), and the cost of teaching assistants and they need to collect 3K/student. 30-40K/year/student seems reasonable in that context. Abolish tenure (originally instituted in mediaval Europe so professors would be free to think and speak even if it was unpopular with the powers that be), since free speech is more than adequately protected by the First Amendment. Then, pay professors based on teaching productivity and tuition costs will plummet - guaranteed.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 5:16 PM, dilfarb wrote:

    "Improvements in productivity can lead to higher wages at firms like Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ)."

    The only people at HP who have seen their wages go up in the last five years are executives. Raises and promotions have dried up since Mark Hurd took over, and everyone (in the US, at least) took a permanent 5% pay cut earlier this year. Combine that with benefit cuts, losing accrued vacation, etc. and it's obvious the author has no clue what is happening in the real world.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 6:56 PM, dilfarb wrote:

    ... and I should have said Feldman, not the author, doesn't know what's happening in the real world.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 8:19 PM, chrisriver wrote:

    I agree with a few of the above posters that the inflation in the price of a college education is largely due to the fact that you can get private and government loans to pay for it. When a smart (but poor or maybe middle-class student whose parents haven't saved for college) wants to go to college, everyone says he or she must be given assistance. No one says the cost of college is too high for EVERYONE. Most people (and certainly the government) think that college is "enabling" and thus, we must make it available to all, even though college loans can be crippling. The colleges have just eaten this up! The colleges can increase tuition continually because Americans do not want to say no to any kid and keep increasing aid! I think we have to stop increasing government aid and student loan subsidies before colleges will realize they cannot increase costs above inflation forever! (Oh, and maybe we don't really need all those "climbing walls" either)

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 9:25 PM, RLAprof wrote:

    I love it when people take one situation that they know about (or more likely just heard about) and use it to generalize across an entire country.

    jek9fool said: Why do textbooks cost so much??? Because Professor/School $Profit$ is the simple answer.

    I don't make a dime off the textbooks used in my classes. When I order a book, the order goes to the bookstore, which is owned and run by Barnes & Noble (90% of them are), and they order the latest edition. The publisher is the entity coming out with new editions every two years, and they are the ones creating the huge markups because they use new editions to raise prices. However, three things to keep in mind: first, this is a niche market, so demand drives costs, and second, you would not want to pay $100K for tuition and find that your kids (or your doctor) are learning from medical textbooks that are 10 years old. The authors of these textbooks make very little from writing them; the authorship is one thing that helps you get tenure.

    cjb44 said: But of course professors are overpaid. They are there for status. Lecturing while having their TAs do the tough work.

    I started my present position 3 years ago and started at $5000 more than the high school directly across the street offered me. That high school is in the poorest district in the state (I believe we are still the second richest state in the US), with a huge state-wide discrepancy in teacher wages. I teach in a small state university, not a Research 1 institute, so I have no TA, but I have one grad student who is working for $8 per hour on a collaborative research project. I will make $3000 on that year-long project, only after I help her with the research, prepare a paper for submission, and help her with her presentation.

    vriguy said: Too many tenured professors get away with teaching only one course a year and have little or no research funding - so the University is stuck paying them about 100K including benefits.

    I agree that the tenure system is flawed, but again, you are using hyperbole here. I teach four courses each semester, plus one during winter break, and two in the summer. I still don't break 100K, nowhere near. I don't have TAs, I don't have time to do much research, but any grant funding brought in is the way I can buy time from my teaching. I have a colleague who bought out two courses each semester this year, because she brought in a $3.2 million grant, but the grant requires that she teach two courses to local elementary reading teachers each semester. She works about 90 hours per week, and there is no extra money in that grant for her; it only buys those two courses out, so that she can teach two more.

    chrisriver said: (Oh, and maybe we don't really need all those "climbing walls" either)

    I have no idea what you are talking about, because I have never seen a climbing wall on a campus. However, the university where I got my PhD did have a brand-new state-of-the-art student activity and recreation center with a kick-ass gym, handball courts, tennis courts, etc. It was entirely paid for out of student fees; the amount of the fees is levied on the students by themselves.

    The grass always seems to be greener....

    Oh, and I am still paying off student loans.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 9:36 PM, thisislabor wrote:

    It is not the student loan that is the issue, it is the issueing the student loan to the school and then giving it to the student. Screw that process, give me my money first, and let me purchase my education from the school I choose. I can keep and pay off the difference or use the money for living expenses, my loan my responsibility my choice. Or at least that is the way it should be.

    and as far as the price of education goes, I do think the authors hit on something here. I'm not so sure it is that expensive, you gotta look at what your getting for what your paying. At least here in arizona it is damn good value at ASU. There are a few deuche teachers, but alot of them got there act together and know what they are doing and teaching. A few don't care but when they don't I let their bosses know it, and know how I feel about it.

    the cost of education is driven by both the demand for and the method of loans, and partly the loans themselves. if we didn't demand a highly educated work force as a society then we would could progress (regress?) back to a highly manufactoring based economy. but alas that would require major legislation in that field, and lowering corporate tax rates to lure business from abroad back to US soils.

    meh dare I apply the skill I have learned in school, thinking.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 9:43 PM, thisislabor wrote:

    as far as climbing walls I thought he meant the need to have a PhD to teach. climbing walls on the other hand are cheap, poor some concrete, some rebar, some hand holds, mount facing upwords and your good to go.

    btw, what a bunch of bollock crap is that, how bout real world field experience to teach your field? I dono just seems appropriate to me.

    I had a finance professor who had a law degree, two masters, and a bs in accounting on top of lots of military experience. He got his job because he was so "qualified" but couldn't teach frieking finance for the love of the L*rd. I am glad he couldn't ever get a real job and stay in school forever, but really, real world experience would be cooler. at least we would learn what we really needed to know.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 9:52 PM, RLAprof wrote:


    I would have agreed with you before I got my PhD. However, I not only became an expert in my field through "book learning", but I also learned to be critical of my field, ask questions about my field, and do research to answer those questions, contributing to the field.

    As far as real world experience goes, I think I can match anyone in the room. I've had over 40 jobs in my life, and they have been in lots of disparate areas, including all levels of supervision and management. But I teach in education.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 10:21 PM, djkumquat wrote:

    “If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.”

    - frank zappa

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 10:22 PM, djkumquat wrote:

    “If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.”

    - frank zappa

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 11:03 PM, DanteSparda wrote:

    It would seem to me that costs for textbooks, professor salaries and all that jazz are still skirting the issue of what you are really paying for. Personally, I think higher education is overrated in the sense that you have to fork over thousands to learn things that, as said above, you can really get at the library if you're determined enough; the desire to learn is inherent. Not to say that structured classes aren't without their merit if that's what you want.

    However, I think what you are really paying for at college, whether you realize it or not, is not so much the opportunity to learn things, but the chance to "officially" prove to the employment world at large, by means of an accredited institution's blessing, that you're not a total idiot. I would wager a fair amount that, if you took two people with virtually identical knowledge and experience, if one of those people had a degree they would get a job first. Colleges know this is the versatility you get and so you pay out the ass for it. And to an extent, the difficulty of the program you select in college, and subsequently your success in it, is the extent to which you want to prove yourself to the work force at large. And if that desire is substantial enough, you won't need to find money to pay for school.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 11:12 PM, RLAprof wrote:

    Just remember, it is industry that drives the requirement for college degrees, not the other way around.

    And believe me, nobody goes into education for the money.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 11:20 PM, jsmxray wrote:

    This article was written using old school concepts of supply and demand, federal funds supplied the resources that required a report on the cost of education. The federal government should not fund these type of projects because they already know the answers. They should use this funding to reduce at least the interest rates on student loans. The stimulas plan had little impact on higher education, I guess the long term return on a car is more important than an education. I believe only more competition will reduce cost. Once someone with an on-line degree become President, society will then move to this relatively new concept. The lack of brick and mortor will save the student significant money. Then maybe, they can buy a car.

  • Report this Comment On October 30, 2009, at 12:54 AM, pkluck wrote:

    The simple fact is some (most) professors make too much for the amount of work they perform. My friend works at a state college as an associate professor he teaches one class in the fall and two in the spring. His TA's grade his tests and his test questions come from the text books. He spends about 7-8 hrs per week working in the fall and 10-15 hrs per week in the spring. He is matched 2 for 1 on his retirement account and has great medical benefits his salary is just north of $70,000 per year which isn't a lot but per hour works out to more than $200/hour before benefits. You tell me something isn't wrong with that. Oh did I mention he gets close to a month off for winter break and three months off for summer and a week off for Thanksgiving and another for spring break. That my friends is one reason why college tuition is high.

  • Report this Comment On October 30, 2009, at 5:46 AM, paulzee3 wrote:

    This is infuriating. Everything the government gets involved in causes costs to rise...whether it's student loans or equal housing or health care. If they just stayed out of it, people could work and put themselves through school. They then could work and save 20% to put down on a house, because home prices would be reasonable and in line with current salaries. But you add this third supplier of money, and there's no longer a natural supply/demand curve. And then these politicians jump up and down, grandstanding about the haves vs. the have nots, when they're the ones driving up the basic costs of the middle class, widening that gap every day. Keep the government subsidies out, and prices will come in line with what people can afford. End of story.

  • Report this Comment On October 30, 2009, at 9:33 AM, MrsCathyGF wrote:

    So, after all this rationalizing, we do know that college

    professors, and all the staff that work at these institutions insist on pay for their work. Isn't labor costs a big chunk of the budget ? All I'm saying is, we've got snarly WH Pay Czar Feinberg doing his best to slap down people who believed those college degrees they acquired and paid for, should also allow them to go as far with the american dream as they wish, in a free society. The purpose of a college degree is opportunity. And that opportunity comes at a price. Eventually, that price has to be paid back to the individual, after taxes. Presumably, all this makes for a better, productive society. The highest paid also pay 70-80% of all us taxes, consistently, for the most part. So, tell me again, why people should not be allowed to be paid well for their work ?

    Apparently professors are, based on averages and talent.

  • Report this Comment On October 31, 2009, at 7:01 PM, thisislabor wrote:

    hey jsm,

    have you ever taken onlince courses? how bout upper division or master level courses? I couldn't imagine nor would I want to try to take online courses in upper division course work or master level and higher course work.

    ew *gets shudders just thinking about it*

    I'm willing to labor to pay extra money to have a classroom teacher.

    as far teaching salaries go, they are about the same rate that someone with comparable experience would get paid for performing in their respective fields that they teach. at least that was my undestanding of it.

  • Report this Comment On October 31, 2009, at 7:07 PM, thisislabor wrote:

    RLA, you may have a point there on learning to do research.

    One thing I learned writing 80 page papers at ASU (before I dropped out the first time, lol) was to actually do research on a specific, given subject. It definately changes both your opinions and your understanding of things.

    I guess, if one had lots of time, and like 40 years on their side they could spend the time to properly research 100 different subjects to put together 40 - 50 proper lectures that are both accurate and relevant.

    Adding to the body of knowledge as part of your career is half the reason why funds for public schooling at least are half funded by tuition and half funded by government payments. Simply to add to the body of knowledge. - at least that was my understanding?

  • Report this Comment On November 01, 2009, at 2:27 PM, FoolsGrad wrote:

    I have to chime in because there are way too many misconceptions about higher education.

    First, I work in a college, and I do not make a single dime in textbooks.

    Second, teaching is the toughest part. Whoever said TA is left to do the hard work while professors are just sitting back lecturing should wonder what duties are more difficult inside a classroom than teaching?


    False. Just because he is not teaching it doesn't mean he is not working. He could be at a faculty meeting; sitting on a Ph.D student's dissertation defense; meeting with deans to bring more funding to his department; meeting potential donors to increase endowment for the school; meeting with collaborators to further research; meeting with students outside the classroom; or consulting for government--for free.

    I am an outside consultant for the Dept of Energy (for free) because I think I have something to contribute and my students would enjoy my real world experiences inside the classroom. I teach 3 classes each semester.

    If you have problem with professors teaching just one class/semester, then send your kids to a LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGE, do not send your kids to a RESEARCH UNIVERSITY, where their job is to bring in grant money and do research. Professors aren't suppose to sit in their office all day long. They are suppose to do research, which occurs in a library, in another university, or in a national laboratory. Wherever they go for research, one thing is for certain-- if they stay inside their for office more than 2 hours a day, then they aren't doing their job.

  • Report this Comment On November 01, 2009, at 3:12 PM, mikecart1 wrote:

    College isn't expensive. It is what you make of it. If you are serious about going to college get a scholarship. If you can't get a scholarship get a job. I find it funny how WEAK Americans are at this concept. You wonder why you have hard to understand professors and grad students from every country but the US in your classes? It's because they get IT.

    "4-5 years of hell to live very well off until you die"

    What is about Americans that this is so hard for them to understand?

    Getting A's doesn't require a genius brain, it requires a resourceful brain.

    I'm finishing my MBA program and I didn't pay a penny. It's called GETTING YOUR EMPLOYER TO PAY FOR IT.


  • Report this Comment On November 01, 2009, at 3:45 PM, starbucks4ever wrote:


    That's exactly it. College is expensive for the same reason housing is expensive: because people who make loans available to buyers are not given jail sentences for price-fixing.

  • Report this Comment On November 01, 2009, at 10:37 PM, seumass wrote:

    The problem is that people have been duped into thinking that a college education is necessary regardless of the price. Quite simply they are ignoring the opportunity cost of higher education. At some point the cost of education is not justified by increased opportunity and wages.

    With undergrad/grad education costing 200k we are fast getting to the point where the intelligent choice for a parent will be to put money initially set aside for college into a trust fund/stock market and sending their son/daughter off to dig ditches or bum around Europe. With a little cooperation from the market, by the time they are 40 years old they will be a millionaire.

    Clearly there is a bubble in education, fuelled by fear of being left behind as well as overly accessible loans.

    The irony of all this is that at a time when education is more important than ever to compete on a global basis we have a system that condemning students to economic servitude with ridiculous costs.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2009, at 4:56 AM, Ricken14 wrote:

    The research does not address the central issue: Salaries as a percent of operating budget.

    In both public and private high schools. The cost of teacher salaries is 80% of the annual budget. I believe it is the same in universities, but obtaining data is difficult as this info is not often published, because the academics don't want it published.

    High tech equipment is not the reason for escalating college tuition.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2009, at 11:54 AM, FoolsGrad wrote:

    False, Ricken. Budgets for public universities are published. Whether or not your legislators made that accessible to you is another matter. Academics, contrary to your view, have little say over the budget.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2009, at 12:21 PM, Slipswitch wrote:

    If college costs are up because wages overall are up, then why are college costs rising so much more than wages, at least the average person's wages?

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2009, at 2:05 PM, RLAprof wrote:


    One of the universities that I attended was a Tier I research institute. Not only was the budget open to the public, but ALL wages were public information as well. You could go to a link on the web and find every employees wages by name.

    One thing I haven't seen come up in this discussion of college expenses is the expenditures connected to college sports. By far the highest paid person at that university was the football coach, who had something like a $20 million six-year contract. Yes, I agree that the revenue from television, etc, helped to pay for that, but there were many costs that were "hidden" in the general budget. One of those hidden costs was the $1million per year liability insurance on the stadium.

    What are college sports FOR?

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2009, at 2:50 PM, msintn wrote:

    We can't overlook the fact that education in the USA is like every other area that is subsidized by state and federal governments - it has become bloated and inefficient because it knows it can depend on taxpayer subsidies of financial aid.

    Colleges don't have to run themselves like private companies. If they did, they would HAVE to become more efficient and useful for the students, instead of mandating all kinds of classes that only benefit tenured professors who just want to keep their jobs.

    There is overlap with high school and college, where state mandates require kids to take "general core" classes, many of which they are required to take all over again when they get to college. Totally inefficient and a waste of time! General core classes should be studied in high school; college should be a time to focus on learning useful job skills. Not sitting in a classroom all day learning how to take lecture notes!

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2009, at 4:00 PM, truman1987 wrote:

    Tale of two grads. Both graduated from high school 4 years ago. Grad One got 1600 on his SATs and went to Williams College. Grad Two got a job from me. He is a computer tech. He is smart and works very hard. Grad one got a double major from Williams, he is also smart and hard working, but he now sits at home with no job. Grad two started at $25k, continued his education by getting industry certifications at my expense and now makes $37k. He has been stacking 10% of his salary in the 401k since he was 18. If he continues at that level, he will be worth in excess of 1 million dollars when he retires. He has saved enough other cash to think about a down payment on a house. Grad one doesn't owe any money because his father paid all the costs, $200k +. Now he is very smart and he will find a good job sometime, but I still don't think he can ever catch up. I should charge tuition instead of paying salaries. Bottom line, if you are smart and hard working, you will do fine, with or without college.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2009, at 5:02 PM, OldGroats wrote:

    I disagree. There is too much administration & middle management. Profs are paid way too much for what they do and they do not deliver enough. Divide it out - what the class costs by the number of hours and ask yourself did the instructor deliver a fair value during each lecture. Was he worth $150 an hour to you?

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2009, at 5:50 PM, FoolsGrad wrote:

    OldGroats- What are your criteria for "delivering"? There is no basis for your comment and you and I both know that you have no answer to my question, since you have no criteria. It's nothing more than empty rhetoric.

    And if you think all tuition money goes to professors, then you are as ignorant as you are delusional.

    I agree with you on one thing though--you have overpaid for your education.



    I enjoy college sports, and if some expenses are needed to make them happen, then it's fine by me. It's another aspect of college life that universities are striving to deliver these days. Moreover, well-paid coaches can only be found in Div-1 schools. Coaches who work outside of D-1 do not enjoy the same benefits as Div 1 coaches. In fact, some are being paid less than a tenured-track asst. prof.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2009, at 8:46 PM, RLAprof wrote:


    Why should the college supply your enjoyment of sports? If they are as profitable as people say, and as enjoyable, wouldn't it make more sense to detach them from the schools and make them into semi-pro teams? They are, after all, just farm systems for the pros.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2009, at 9:30 PM, FoolsGrad wrote:

    Why should colleges have career placement officers? Why should colleges have rec centers? Why should colleges have intramural teams? Why should colleges give undergrads research money so they could write a thesis? Why should colleges pay undergrads to gain TA experiences?

    Do you want us to provide a multifaceted college experience or not? If you believe extracurricular activities and interests are part of our liberal education, then you need to cough up the cash, sports included.

    Notice that I make no argument regarding revenues. Only 15-20 schools in this country run a profitable athletic program. I just want you to be aware of the fact that only a tiny (very tiny) fraction of coaches in this country are entitled to million-dollar contracts. The majority of them are paid similar to asst/assoc. prof.

  • Report this Comment On November 03, 2009, at 5:24 PM, Artx84de408 wrote:

    Speaking of college in itself, is there any college stocks out there besides PSO and McGraw-Hill, which supports the textbooks (overpriced as they are)?

  • Report this Comment On November 03, 2009, at 5:52 PM, miteycasey wrote:

    "However, three things to keep in mind: first, this is a niche market, so demand drives costs, and second, you would not want to pay $100K for tuition and find that your kids (or your doctor) are learning from medical textbooks that are 10 years old. The authors of these textbooks make very little from writing them; the authorship is one thing that helps you get tenure."

    I have no problem with fields that change regularly, like computer science, but does calculus, algebra, trig, biology, US history 1772-2000, or chemistry change every two years?

    It's a profit center for colleges just like everything else.

  • Report this Comment On November 04, 2009, at 12:19 AM, mikelconn wrote:

    I'm an older guy who worked his way thru 5 years of college and got my degree(s), minors in Chem Eng and Chemistry, Major in Math. Once I got into the working world, I hardly used any of my "Learning". What I did use was my acquired belief in myself that I could do anything I set my mind to. I've managed 600 engineering people in Singapore manufacturing (disc drives), I've established long-lasting relationships with Asian semiconductor plants; I've probably worked for 10 (or more) startup companies. I've had a good, successful life, so far. That's what I paid for (in college) and I've received CONFIDENCE in exchange for my time and money.

    What I really want to say is that University's should be run/managed by managers who know how to run a BUSINESS, control costs, expenditures, hiring and firing, setting goals, measuring accomplishments, new products, marketing them successfully, and on and on.

    I strongly feel we do not have the right people running these institutions. If gov't intervened and starting limiting salarys like they just did with C, AIG, etc. it might help control costs. Or how about limit cost increases to inflation. How about putting pressure on Barnes to control textbook costs? or throw them out of the college bookstore business. When I was in college, the university college kids ran the bookstore, traded used books at 50% for new ones for next semester/ year.

    just some comments from me...

  • Report this Comment On November 04, 2009, at 1:01 AM, Jhccap wrote:

    I have just read thru the 50 + blogs already posted and don't see a mention of the Kindle Book/notebook as a possible solution to the high cost of textbooks. Is this a part of the solution?

  • Report this Comment On November 04, 2009, at 1:12 AM, DivMonk wrote:

    Well, I'm currently in my fourth year of college as an engineering major, and I am feeling the full force of college costs as I have $50k in debt from a public school. A few things that I've seen in comments that I will respond to:

    1) Yes, Textbooks are expensive, but jek9fool pointing out that textbooks cost $200-$350 is misleading. After 7 semesters of buying books, my highest paid new book was $180, while the average is around $100 for my combination of used and old books. (I buy used when possible.) This usually ends up averaging out at about $500 a semester, or about $4000 throughout my college career. $4000 is, in my opinion, far too much, but compared to $50k+ in four years of tuition and $24k+ in room and board, books really aren't the main problem.

    2) I don't think professors earn that much, but I feel that they should teach a bit more for their salary. Professors do earn quite a bit of money, but compared to their education level, it is modest. Most of my engineering professors could be earning far more money in the industry, but they choose teaching and research because it gives them the lifestyle they want. Some older professors barely teach at all and they're the ones making the most money.

    3) I think tenure should be removed. Some of my worst professors have been my older, tenured, high-ranking professors. They don't give a damn. The younger professors that are trying to prove themselves are typically the best teachers, despite having less experience. Better teaching for a lower salary.

    4) I'm not so sure technology advances are the main source for increased tuition. Sure, in my engineering major technology plays a large part and keeps costs up, but schools that have a lot more emphasis on history, law, english, and whatever all tend to have high costs as well. All you need is a teacher, books, a blackboard, and a room with seats, yet it can cost tens of thousands per year.

    5) All I know is that with $50k in debt and an 8% interest rate, I'll be paying my debt back for a long time. Meanwhile, my school is currently building a $300 million research building while they have frozen all professors pay this year due to the economy. Divided by the number of students, that comes out to $7000 per student this year, (though probably a bit less when state aid and research grants are taken into account, but still, it's several thousand per student for one building). Add in two other buildings at $20 million and $50 million each, and that's why my tuition is so high.

  • Report this Comment On November 04, 2009, at 7:04 AM, RLAprof wrote:

    Having "business managers" run the university is a great idea, but the problem arises when these same people make educational decisions. (Believe it or not, there really are business managers working at the university.)

    InvestingMonk said: "All you need is a teacher, books, a blackboard, and a room with seats...", but then he complained because the rooms cost so much.

    The decisions to build new buildings are made quite separately from tuition and operating budgets. And one thing people in here have ignored is the fact that there are no public universities that set their own budgets; those are set by your elected officials.

    And yes, we could make more in industry.

  • Report this Comment On November 04, 2009, at 11:09 AM, DivMonk wrote:

    RLAprof: "InvestingMonk said: 'All you need is a teacher, books, a blackboard, and a room with seats...', but then he complained because the rooms cost so much.

    Not exactly. I said clearly that the $300 million building is a research building. It costs so much because has all sorts of electronic material testing devices and such and is designed to stand up to years of shaking (because apparently it has a very large vibrating mechanism for materials). It's not primarily a classroom building. The $20 million building is a health building that also has no classrooms, but has lots of funky architecture that I'm sure adds to its cost.

    Even if the decision to build a building is made aside from tuition and operating budgets, it's still coming out of student money. It still causes tuition to rise. The building was only partially paid for by research grants.

  • Report this Comment On November 04, 2009, at 11:42 AM, FoolsGrad wrote:

    "What I really want to say is that University's should be run/managed by managers who know how to run a BUSINESS, control costs, expenditures, hiring and firing, setting goals, measuring accomplishments, new products, marketing them successfully, and on and on."

    This idea sounds good on paper but education is different from business. I hope we will one day sees education for what it is--to make people better, rather than as a trade guild.

    Aside from the lofty speech, education does not yield immediate benefits, therefore, we cannot "sell" education and see a profit right away. Most schools (the good ones) have to rely on the endowments to operate, not tuition. Therefore, I'd prefer our alumni to give back to their alma mater because they enjoyed the experience, not because we have a good marketing team.

  • Report this Comment On November 04, 2009, at 12:17 PM, univadmin wrote:

    I work for a college in the administration side. 4 year public university system. The lack of decision- making, waste of resources, poor management and inability to address staff problems is the root of rising college costs. Poor producers are not fired. Colleges are not run like businesses, they are run as if they are elite medieval communities that have an endless supply of patrons. They waste inordinate amounts of money. Period. And they pass that waste on to students because they can. They are not accountable for their spending or their teaching results. They are not asked to make a business profit before they get a raise. If they need operating funds they raise tuition. They pass students through just to keep the golden goose laying. It is a disgrace how much money is frittered away because of poor decision-making and lack of accountabilty for results. They would all be fired in a private business or the business would go under. The golden geese can't pay for ineptitude any more. Now what?

  • Report this Comment On November 04, 2009, at 3:07 PM, vrpirata wrote:

    One of my elder professors told me what I believe is the real reason for cost increase. The ratio of non-professors (administrators, clerks, and other overhead) to professors has been increasing.

    The objective of a college is to teach, and so, most of its population should be teaching professors, and most of the money that comes in should be used to pay professors. Reality is that the overhead as been increasing so much, and the overhead most of the time makes more than the people that actually do the work of teaching.

  • Report this Comment On November 05, 2009, at 1:37 PM, FoolsGrad wrote:

    Thank you! There is finally one person who understands why college costs have gone up. Universities have hired more administrators over the years instead of hiring professors. Tuition money flows to administrators instead of professors and this trend is not going to stop until we place the blame on college administration instead of bashing professors.

  • Report this Comment On November 05, 2009, at 2:09 PM, lemoneater wrote:

    I'm married to a professor at a small private college. My husband makes 1/2 to 1/3 what he could make in industry. Unfortunately small as the college is, it still tries to "keep up with the Jones's" and spends a lot of money on non-essentials. (Don't switch out the flowers so often for instance. We can enjoy the same flowers for more than two weeks at a time. I think it has been a little less excessive recently.) I wonder in the future what kind of effect online courses will have in reducing college costs. If you are taking courses and you value your professor's efforts. Tell him. Part of his intangible pay is your appreciation.

  • Report this Comment On November 05, 2009, at 2:12 PM, lemoneater wrote:

    P.S. Excuse my grammatical errors. I never seem to notice all my mistakes until I post :(. At least I'm not the professor in the family!

  • Report this Comment On November 05, 2009, at 6:20 PM, Jack789 wrote:

    Somehow, I know that the outrageous cost of higher education (and medical insurance/medical care) is connected to a realization I had long ago about both : they are the two captitalist institutions I know of that treat their "customers" more like prisoners than customers. Except: you have to apply to get inside their prisons.

    Consider: In the ordinary capitalistic system the customer sets the rules, the standards of purchase and his or her level of satisfaction, and the provider/institution complies or the customer goes elsewhere. Not with education and medical care. Oh yes, I know there are always other Drs./Hospitals and other Universities.

    But the rule of capitalism does not quite apply to medical care and higher education because: you have to apply to get their service. You have to ask them to get in. Therein lies the difference and the reason for their outrageous costs. Consider:

    While you may have rights to leave or not use their service, or change from them to another: you are in each case, very needy. You really : have to have/need/want that medical care/education.

    You have to go to "the System" to get it. Once you do, you belong to them, you are not their boss, they are your boss. You are discouraged by a massive cultural system that dominates the ordinary person and makes changing difficult, and sometimes impossible.

    Who wants to challenge his Doctor or Hospital that might save his life? Who wants to challenge the Teacher or University that might grant him the key to the Kingdom of employment and wealth?

    Few of us do, once we are inside those institutiions we applied to join. We become their prisoners. They make the rules, rules we the customer must obey.

    There is something very wrong with a higher education system that produces the likes of a Ward Churchill and Sami Al Arian, and countless others of like persusasion and agenda, and incompetence, hiding in the halls of academia teaching our children. How do such people get hired much less promoted? And then defended by "academia" once hired on and exposed?

    I used to think that the hard sciences had escaped the PC police and this corruption of standards. I am no longer convinced of that after the experience of Larry Summers at Harvard. The whole system is awry, corrupted,

    Ordinarilly the "customer" -- we who send our children to higher ed and pay for that privilege would correct it. But - customers must have choices, and competitors to the service offered, in order to make that marketplace work. Somehow we - the customer - have lost that marketplace with higher ed and health care. And with that loss we are their prisoners, not their customers.

  • Report this Comment On November 05, 2009, at 10:09 PM, khoonie wrote:

    Higher wages is only part of the equation, demand and supply for higher education is the other factor.

    Year after year we see applicants scrambling and flighting among themselves to secure a place in their university of choice. And, it gets worse as competition heats up. Growing population, influx of foreign students and rising operating costs all contribute to higher tuition fees. Blame economic causes, not professors.

    The fallacy is to assume that higher education necessarily leads to more wealth and riches - it doesn't. It only helps you to get a job, or at the very least prepares you for the next step, whatever it may be. That are no guarantees whatsoever. Anyway I digress.

    The short - mid term solution i think is to use technology to reduce waste and increase efficiency 1) use ebook versions of textbooks and email assignments 2) gradually replace more traditional classrooms for 100% online virtual classrooms 3) establish new institutions that focus on new fields such as green energy - increase both quantity and relevancy of education

  • Report this Comment On November 05, 2009, at 10:23 PM, FoolsGrad wrote:

    Good lord! Virtual classrooms? It's really too bad that no one values a good old fashion chalkboard and lecture anymore. An instructor could learn a lot from students' facial and body expressions, and virtual classrooms will only reduce teaching effectiveness.

    Jack, have you given any thought to take a course in composition?

  • Report this Comment On November 05, 2009, at 11:19 PM, TMFDitty wrote:

    Artx84de408 --

    Please rephrase your question. I am not certain what you are asking: "Speaking of college in itself, is there any college stocks out there..."

    Are you asking for education-related stocks? Stocks that profit off of textbooks in particular? Something else?

    I'd be glad to offer some ideas. Just need to make sure I know what you are asking.

    Foolish best,


  • Report this Comment On November 06, 2009, at 6:52 PM, Jack789 wrote:

    Fool's Grad

    said: Have I given any thought to taking a course in composition?

    Oh my, I did wander, didn't I ? All over the place. But you evidently read it. Which is good. But you see, this is an example of what higher ed buys: I have an AB and MA -- from very good Universities I might add. But I need courses in composition. Tch, such a failure of higher ed.

  • Report this Comment On November 06, 2009, at 6:56 PM, Jack789 wrote:

    Fool's Grad

    said: Have I given any thought to taking a course in composition?

    Oh my, I did wander, didn't I ? All over the place. But you evidently read it. Which is good. But you see, this is an example of what higher ed buys: I have an AB and MA -- from very good Universities I might add. But I need courses in composition. Tch, such a failure of higher ed.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2009, at 10:35 PM, PerkinsTexas wrote:

    I don't buy the author's argument that much of the increase is due to ever improving salaries. I worked as a business school professor and administrator for 15 years in large state universities. My annual raise averaged about 2% with many years closer to 0%.

    From what I saw the increase was due not to salary increases as such but adding new faculty who teach very little, new program staff, and new buildings. Universities have not controlled costs.

    Of course, at the same time, most states have run away from higher education, reducing support as much as they can. I don't expect that to improve any time soon.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2014, at 10:04 PM, zcunningham wrote:

    According to, a general MBA can be obtained for as little as $6k and as high as $120k. If students would do a little research, they would find that it is not nearly as expensive to get a college degree.

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