If you’re the parent of a teenager, you’ve probably spent a fair bit of time thinking about college tuition. One thing which may be much on your mind is that it can’t possibly have been this expensive in your day – and indeed, the cost of a college education has increased considerably since the parents of todays’ teenagers were in college. The National Center for Education Statistics shows a steady upward trend from $2,275 for tuition plus room and board in 1976 to $15,434 in 2007, and if you’re looking at a private institution or an out-of-state school, the price tag will likely be far higher even than that.
So why the tuition hike? Inflation? No. The rate of rise in annual college tuition overtook the inflation rate in the mid-1970s and has gone a ways past it. The vagaries of federal and state funding? Perhaps. But in an op-ed in this weekend’s New York Times, one author and legal scholar proposed a different explanation altogether. Whether or not you agree with his analysis, it’s an interesting perspective to consider and certainly worth reading.