Nicholas Lemann write recently in The New Yorker that the idea of an expensive four-year college education may be a misconception. Although student debt averages just under $30,000, most of that debt is not because college has to be expensive today.
So how are students racking up college debt? Most college debt, according to Lemman, is accrued at private institutions, not the Harvards and Yales but at schools that are private for-profit institutions: Strayer University, the University of Phoenix, DeVry University, and Kaplan University, to name a few. Finally, the Obama administration is tightening its standards for giving Federal loan dollars to for-profits. Student debt has even been forgiven for those who attended the bankrupt Corinthian College.
Another reason for the student debt is driven by students and parents who want the frills. When parents and students are willing to pay for fancy recreational facilities, new dorms, athletic programs, and high profile faculty, certainly the cost will go up. Now even public university costs have risen because of these demands. Also private schools that are selective can still demand high prices because of the applicants competitively vying to gain admission. In actuality most of the 3,000 non-profit private colleges could afford a no-student debt policy.
Perhaps it is time for parents and students to begin to shop wisely. Such thoughtful demand for lower-cost college education could change the dynamics and lower the overall cost of a college education.