If you were to google “why is college so expensive,” you surely wouldn’t be at a loss for links to click. A confluence of known changes in higher education (including public funding cuts, new facility and technology costs, administrative ‘bloat’), possibly some disputed changes (most notably financial aid and federal student loans), and surely some other factors (like the continued belief that, despite rising costs, college is worth the investment) have worked together to make college 1,120% more expensive than it was 30 years ago.
However, is it possible that certain expensive schools are worth far more than their sticker price? That’s the investigation of this piece by NPR’s Planet Money.
The estimated cost of attendance at Duke this year was in excess of $60,000. The piece in NPR’s Planet Money episode 520 looks into the drivers of those costs and wonders if a market price of $90,000 would be deserved. If so, that’s a $30,000 per annum discount.
Thankfully, the piece doesn’t advocate for higher tuition costs. It is, however, an interesting thought when one considers that, while sectorwide higher education prices are becoming increasibly unaffordable, there may be exceptional cases where a school could greatly increase the cost of attendance while still providing a return on investment and educational experience. Perhaps it should serve as a good reminder to families with collegebound children to look at return on investment for specific colleges and for majors.