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Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much

Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much

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The dramatic rise in university tuition costs is placing a greater financial burden on millions of college-bound Americans and their families. Yet only a fraction of the additional money colleges are collecting—twenty-one cents on the dollar—goes toward instruction. And, by many measures, colleges are doing a worse job of educating Americans. Why are we spending more—and getting less? In Going Broke by Degree, economist Richard Vedder examines the causes of the college tuition crisis. He warns that exorbitant tuition hikes are not sustainable, and explores ways to reverse this alarming trend.

Vedder's research demonstrates that America’s universities have become less productive, less efficient, and more likely to use tuition money and state and federal grants to subsidize noninstructional activities such as as athletics. These factors combine to produce dramatic hikes in tuition, making it more difficult for Americans to afford college.

Vedder believes that competition from for-profit universities (the fastest growing sector in higher education), computer-based distance learning, and nonuniversity certification of skills can be a powerful force for needed change. He suggests that possible solutions to the tuition crisis includemodifying tenure, increasing teaching loads, paring administrative staffs, increasing distance learning, and cutting costly noneducational programs. He also suggests even more dramatic changes, including transforming state grants to universities into student voucher programs, as well as other steps to increase privatization of state universities.