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Why Does College Cost So Much?

Author

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  • Archibald, Robert B.

    (College of William and Mary)

  • Feldman, David H.

    (College of William and Mary)

Abstract

College tuition has risen more rapidly than the overall inflation rate for much of the past century. Over the last thirty years, tuition growth has accelerated. The rhetoric of crisis now permeates public discussion of the cost of attendance. Much of what is written about colleges and universities ties rapidly rising tuition to dysfunctional behavior in the academy. Common targets of dysfunction include prestige games among universities, gold plated amenities, and bloated administration. This book offers a different view. To explain rising college cost, the authors place the higher education industry firmly within the larger economic history of the United States. The trajectory of college cost is similar to cost behavior in many other industries, and this is no coincidence. Higher education is a personal service that relies on highly educated labor. A technological trio of broad economic forces has come together in the last thirty years to cause higher education costs, and costs in many other industries, to rise much more rapidly than the inflation rate. The main culprit is economic growth itself. This finding does not mean that all is well in American higher education. A college education has become less reachable to a broad swathe of the American public at the same time that the market demand for highly educated people has soared. This affordability problem has deep roots. The authors explore how cost pressure, the changing wage structure of the US economy, and the complexity of financial aid policy combine to reduce access to higher education below what we need in the 21st century labor market. This book is a call to calm the rhetoric of blame and to find instead policies that will increase access to higher education while preserving the quality of our colleges and universities. Available in OSO: http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/oso/public/content/economicsfinance/9780199744503/toc.html

Suggested Citation

  • Archibald, Robert B. & Feldman, David H., 2010. "Why Does College Cost So Much?," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199744503.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780199744503
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    Cited by:

    1. Marcotte, Dave E., 2016. "The Returns to Education at Community Colleges: New Evidence from the Education Longitudinal Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 10202, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Lee, Donghoon & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert & Haughwout, Andrew F. & Brown, Meta & Scally, Joelle, 2014. "Measuring student debt and its performance," Staff Reports 668, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    3. Robert B. Archibald & David H. Feldman, 2010. "Are Gold Plated Room & Board Charges Important Drivers of College Cost?," Working Papers 99, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
    4. Catharine B. Hill, 2016. "American Higher Education and Income Inequality," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 11(3), pages 325-339, Summer.

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