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HomeIllinois NewsLeading Progressives (read: Socialists) Blame the Wrong Culprit for Rising College Costs

Leading Progressives (read: Socialists) Blame the Wrong Culprit for Rising College Costs




As subsidies for higher education climb, and so, too, does its price.James Agresti fact checks some claims from the campaign trail:

The inflation-adjusted average sticker price for public college has doubled since 1980. For private colleges, it has nearly tripled […] .

In fact, the full costs of colleges far exceed their sticker prices. The average annual sticker price at 4-year public colleges is $20,050 for in-state students and $25,657 for out-of-state students. In contrast, the average spending per student at these colleges is now $44,965 per year—roughly twice their sticker prices.

For in-state students at 2-year public colleges, the difference is much larger. Their average annual sticker price is $3,243, while the average spending per student is $16,512—five times their sticker price.

The difference declines considerably at 4-year private non-profit colleges, but the costs to society still surpass consumer prices. Their average sticker price is $43,139 per year, while the averagespending per student is $58,794—36% higher than the sticker price. […]

The burden of paying for higher education is becoming a major campaign issue, and Democrat contenders like Elizabeth Warrenand Bernie Sanders are blaming the situation on reduced government funding. Media outlets like the Washington Post and the Associated Press are telling the same story. In the words of the AP, “Year after year, colleges say they have to raise tuition to offset state funding cuts. Students have shouldered the cost by taking out loans, pushing the country’s student debt to nearly $1.6 trillion this year.”

Like the AP—Warren, Sanders, and the Post focus on state funding, which declined after the Great Recession. However, they fail to mention that federal funding rose by more than state funding declined. Looking at the big picture, data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that inflation-adjusted governmentspending per college student has risen by nearly three times over the past century and is currently greater than it has ever been […].

In 1959, the earliest year of available data, taxpayers contributed $3,550 per student. This climbed to $10,182 per student in 2017, the latest year of data.

[James Agresti, “Leading Progressives Blame the Wrong Culprit for Rising College Costs,” Just Facts Daily, June 20]


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