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Thinking Seriously about Paying for College: The Large Effects of a Little Thought


  • Goethals, G.R.
  • McPherson Frantz, C.


The high price of attending college has generated a great deal of discussion and some heated controversy in recent years. Popular opinions generally depict college prices as unreasonable, unjustified, and unpayable. In the context of thinking seriously about the ways colleges and universities ought to approach the difficult issue of pricing in higher education, we survey students at various institutions in order to seek insight into how students think about the amount they pay, and what they get for their money. More specifically, we ask students to seriously consider the subsidy associated with their educational program, and the effect that a change in the size of this subsidy might have on this program. As a result of this exercise, we find that students tend to regard the price of their education as significantly more reasonable than they had prior to thinking seriously about its cost.

Suggested Citation

  • Goethals, G.R. & McPherson Frantz, C., 1997. "Thinking Seriously about Paying for College: The Large Effects of a Little Thought," Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education DP-44, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  • Handle: RePEc:wil:wilehe:44

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gordon C. Winston & Lewis, E.G., 1996. "Physical Capital and Capital Costs in US Colleges and Universities: 1993," Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education DP-35, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    2. Ethan G. Lewis & Gordon C. Winston, 1997. "Subsidies, Costs, Tuition and Aid in US Higher Education," Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education DP-41, Department of Economics, Williams College.
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    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid


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