Monday, April 28, 2008

Economics of College

In the first of a three-part series on the "Economics of College," economist Thomas Sowell asks, "How many people would go to college if they had to pay the real cost of all the resources taken from other parts of the economy? Probably a lot fewer people."

Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.


At 4/29/2008 4:10 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

I'd love to see a study which examined how much the ever-rising cost of college is defined by state-based cost rankings -- That is, here in Gainesville, FL (Home of UF), the papers constantly throw out "FL ranks 38th out of 50 in the cost of public college tuition" (or whatever the figure is) -- this is used as an argument that the price is under what it should be... so FL raises its tuition -- which causes some OTHER state to drop to 38th... so THEY raise their tuition. And so on, in an orgy of ladder climbing, the costs of college, tied to nothing rational in particular, go up.

When I went to college in the late 70s, FL tuition was ca. $15 per credit hour. Now it is around $100 per credit hour, an increase far above the inflation since then.

I wonder if the cost of an education at private schools has gone up the same way... Somehow, I doubt if it's up by a factor of almost seven since the mid-70s.

I'd love to see how often, prior to an increase, such an argument is floated... and how often the opposite is noted: "The tuition at public universities here in state XX is #1 out of 50 states. Clearly, we need to lower our tuition rates..."

The other item of interest would be how much A&SF (Activity and Service Fees, usually monies paid to operate Student Governments -- i.e., "taxes") fees have changed in the last 30 to 40-odd years.

UF now charges an A&SF something like $11.25 per hour, almost as much as the whole hour used to cost back in the 70s.

At 4/29/2008 4:13 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

Mind you, I realize that $15/hr figure was heavily subsidized. I'm just curious how much the rank-based argument is used to justify increasing it, rather than rational claims about the cost-benefit to the state (i.e., better training means better employee incomes means more tax revenue) and its taxpayers.

At 4/29/2008 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"economic policy based on human interest stories"

Must concur with Thomas Sowell on this point. "human interest stories" drive many of the populist agendas creating a danger of ill-conceived, expensive and often useless public policy.

Ironically, it is often those who can afford education who take advantage of funding intended for low income students.

I remember attending university in the early 80's with the son of a university prof. who was exempt from tuition fees because of his father's job. He received a government grant which he spent partying with his friends and living it up in residence. The rest of us had student loans, commuted from home and/or worked part-time to supplement our expenses.

At 4/30/2008 3:28 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Ironically, it is often those who can afford education who take advantage of funding intended for low income students.

I had a co-worker with a very Spanish last name (he was actually from the phillipines) who was distinctly oriental in cast. Because of his last name, however, he qualified for a scholarship for people of hispanic descent.

At 4/30/2008 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He may want to reconsider his words. At the same time that education becomes closer to necessary, he wants to make it unreachable? Sealing the exit is not the path to take. If you want to put the cost somewhere, put it on all the "internationals".


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