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Forum Post: Why are public universities so expensive?

Posted 2 years ago on Oct. 27, 2011, 7:02 p.m. EST by number2 (914)
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I want to know your answer.



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[-] 3 points by cheeseus (109) 2 years ago

Why are piano lessons so cheap? Why can I learn yogo or bodybuilding so cheap? Why can I get my dog potty trained so cheap? It's because those are still free markets.

[-] 1 points by number2 (914) 2 years ago

that's a good answer

[-] 3 points by VindicatedVigilante (176) from Fort Worth, TX 2 years ago

The issue is government. In order to become accredited you have to adhere to a huge list of regulations just to qualify, as a university, for Gov subsidies therefore cost go up.

[-] 2 points by PolkaDot (121) from Manhasset, NY 2 years ago

Because they can. No one holds them accountable. Kids just keep pouring their federal student loans into them no matter what the cost. No public outcry like when gas prices go up. College and Universities are Big Business. They have the public fooled into thinking they are sacred benevolent institutions, and therefore above all accountability. Why should some 18 year old kid sign up to give them $180, 000 over the course of 4 years for a worthless piece of paper and a load of neverending debt? It's a racket.

[-] 1 points by number2 (914) 2 years ago

I do see the extortion from text book publishers, who rewrite new editions, each one worse than the last, and charge more money.

[-] 1 points by Mooks (1985) 2 years ago

You can always buy old editions, often for under $20. Normally they are identical, word for word. The newer ones will just have better graphics.

Libraries also have these books on reserve as well for those classes where you really don't want to actually buy the book.

I put myself through college and dental school and never spent more than $50 on a book and literally got at least 15 different books for under $20 each. There are so many ways out there to avoid paying those ridiculous fees.

[-] 1 points by number2 (914) 2 years ago

ya torrents are even better. they're free

[-] 1 points by Mooks (1985) 2 years ago

Yeah some of my classmates used to do that. I always needed something on paper though. I could never study on my computer I would always end up surfing the web.

[-] 1 points by number2 (914) 2 years ago

I hate that. This forum is addictive. Unfortunately, you can't just take your text book with you and go to a quiet library anymore. You have to have internet access and at my school there is hardly anywhere to study that is quiet. There are plenty of administration buildings though. It's about 5 to 1, administrator buildings vs. places for students to study.

[-] 1 points by 71353933 (85) 2 years ago

to support rising administratorand professor salaries and to build more buildings and sports programs and to expecially help pay for inflated retirement benefits for bourgeous professors and administrators.

[-] 1 points by concernedcitizen0000 (3) from New York, NY 2 years ago

College is definitely very expensive... more expensive than I think it should be. I graduated a few years ago with some pretty hefty student loans.

But, without my degree.. I would never have been able to get the amazing job I now have. I worked so so hard to get through school and find a job. My first job was shit and I barely made any money. I could barely get by with rent and paying the minimums on my student loans... it was hard!

But I was able to get a promotion into a great position that I love! It's really long 10-12 hour days and so very stressful but it's all worth it. I am now living back home with my parents... but only for now. My focus is to pay off my loans. And I will hopefully be able to pay them off in just three years. I'm so excited to be debt free!

College is expensive but I think it's very worth it.

[-] 1 points by Daennera (765) from Griffith, IN 2 years ago

Supply and demand. More people can go to schools because they can get loans. There simply isn't enough space for everyone that wants to go to college. Ergo prices rise until enough people are discouraged by the cost from going that the schools can meet demand. Personally I always found going into hock for a two cent piece of paper was RIDICULOUS! I remember having arguments with my own parents (who have otherwise always been truly financially responsible and frugal) how I was not going to take any loans. Never have I been so glad to stick to my guns.

[-] 1 points by reddy2 (256) 2 years ago

Because they can.

Because the government backs all the student loans no matter how high.

And regardless of the students capacity to repay.

It's ludicrous and echoes the easy money, no doc home loans.

It's win win for the banks and the universities are taking advantage of government meddling by pushing the prices as high as possible.






[-] 1 points by armchairecon1 (169) 2 years ago

the same reason why housing is (was) so expensive..

people were willing to pay whatever was being asked, and never stopped to think 'hmm.. is this worth it'?

part of the fault is cheap money/low interest (the government's fault), the other is that people persisted like lemmings thinking that housing prices will NEVER fall and a college education is ALWAYS the right thing. it may have been true int he previous generation, but at a certain point, you have to stop and think for yourself.

If people stopped to think 'hmm, why am i paying brand name prices to go to podunk u.. is there any difference between that and going to my state U for 1/4 the cost? then most crappy private colleges would never have been able to charge the outrageous prices that resulted in graduates having worthless degrees

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 2 years ago

because people will pay anyway

[-] 1 points by turtlebeanz (40) 2 years ago

i think polkadot's got it. ran prieur wrote on his blog about this a while back, basically saying that the crazy high tuition evolved in tandem with the educational loan industry. because the loans were available, the tuition went higher and higher. so, he argues, debt should be wiped out so that banks will learn that it's a bad idea to try to own the future earning power of the poor. and then universities should be forced to compete like other businesses, to sell education at prices people can actually pay.

[-] 1 points by armchairecon1 (169) 2 years ago

did the bank force the students to pay 40k to go to podunk private unniversity when state college was around the corner for 8k?

if loans werent available, people would be complaining that only rich kids got to go to college... right?

[-] 1 points by turtlebeanz (40) 2 years ago

the argument seems to be that all of the schools, public and private, have become more expensive as the loan money to pay for them has become available. for many, even "podunk university" is quite a stretch at this point.

[-] 0 points by Frankie (733) 2 years ago

So why is it that people understand how this works in the case of education, yet they can't seem to appreciate the same effect applies when subsidizing health care costs, housing, and other similar programs in the same way? (And I'm not directing this at you in particular btw - I have no idea what your views are one way or another.)

[-] 1 points by Redmist (212) from Yazd, Yazd 2 years ago

Ask your professor why she is driving a Volvo, I bet she "earned" that cash.

[-] 2 points by Mooks (1985) 2 years ago

You can get a Volvo for about $40K. It is nothing special.

[-] 1 points by Redmist (212) from Yazd, Yazd 2 years ago

40k is a lot of money to these OWS people.

[-] 2 points by Mooks (1985) 2 years ago

I wonder how many have parents that drive Volvo's.

[-] 1 points by concernedcitizen0000 (3) from New York, NY 2 years ago

Is there a problem with working hard to get a good job to earn a decent salary and being able to afford some nice things?

[-] 1 points by Redmist (212) from Yazd, Yazd 2 years ago

Not in my opinion, Im a raging conservative capitalist firearms instructor. Your barking at the wrong poster, I support working for what you want in life.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 2 years ago

I can't speak for ALL states, but I looked into this very closely in California when Governor Brown released his last budget.

The $/student ratio in K-12 is abysmal. The $/student ratio in the Cal State system is pretty tight The $/Student ratio in the University of California is WAY out of whack with Cal State.

As best I can tell, the reason why the UC system is so costly is because they have become publicly funded businesses rather than schools. Each one of them has built huge "research" facilities that receive a LOT of money from DARPA, DOD, etc so professors can employ unpaid student labor solving military problems in order to publish papers and move up the ranks.

My daughter went to a UC school, and she agrees. She said she almost NEVER had any actual contact with the professors, it was all student aides ! The professors are all off running their businesses and trying to get promoted by publishing papers.

If our universities want to be in business, then fine, they need to generate sufficient profits to cover their costs. Instead, they are providing low cost, government subsidized sweat-shops employing students to do military work!

[-] 1 points by number2 (914) 2 years ago

They really need to let researchers do research and teachers do the teaching. It's a total nightmare when you have a researcher, who doesn't know the first thing about teaching, in front of your class. In addition he doesn't care because he gets paid by grants not tuition and not the state.

[-] 1 points by Frustrated39 (75) 2 years ago

Rico - did Cali ever have a cap for the public institutions the way TX did? As I said below, it used to be pretty much the same cost (at least up to the cap) to attend any public university here. Then they went the way of deregulation and got to set their own costs. Then it got crizzy-crazy.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 2 years ago

Not sure what you mean, but I do know we just raised tuition everywhere.

Cal State Los Angeles: $6,088/$17,248 in/out of state tuition per http://www.collegedata.com/cs/data/college/college_pg03_tmpl.jhtml?schoolId=1080

University of California Los Angeles: $12,686 / $35,564 in/out of state tuition per http://www.collegedata.com/cs/data/college/college_pg03_tmpl.jhtml?schoolId=1093

I don't think ANYONE will ever convince me a diploma that says "University of California" across the top is worth TWICE one that says "California State University" It's madness !

Those same links also show how many students need financial assistance and how much debt they typically carry on graduation. All I can say is that maybe if the "banksters" DIDN'T give people loans, those prices would come down !

[-] 1 points by Frustrated39 (75) 2 years ago

Well, here in TX, until at least a decade ago, the state put a cap on how much tuition any state public university could charge. So, while all colleges may not have cost the same, at least you knew that you wouldn't pay more than $X per semester. So, a degree from UT would never cost more than one from Texas Tech, or A&M, etc.

Then came deregulation, where our state legislators decide that it would make things more 'competitive' if the cap was removed and public schools could begin to charge what they thought a degree was worth from them.

I know this was done strictly from a state level, so again, I don't know what the setup in Cali was, but I know that's why it costs at least twice (in some cases more) to get the same degree now than it did 10+ years ago.

[-] 1 points by Frustrated39 (75) 2 years ago

LOL geez - check out the facts in your state. In Texas, tuition skyrocketed once the state legislature decided to "deregulate" it. Up until that time, there was a cap in place on how much a public university could charge for both in state and out of state tuition.

It had very little to do with tax breaks for corporations, and a lot to do with allowing state universities to start pricing themselves they were private.

I can't speak to all states, but a college education at a state university in Texas used to be very reasonable before it was deregulated like it was a freaking electric company.

Please don't try to pin this one on Wall Street.

[-] 1 points by PROTESSTONER (70) from New York, NY 2 years ago

When states starting giving tax breaks to corporations etc the public universities were forced to raise revenues. Of course when the banks got into student loans, they ripped them off just like home owners, credit cards and anything else they touch. One of the "too big to fail" runs food stamps in NY, don't you know they're making a fortune off that too?

[-] 1 points by number2 (914) 2 years ago

how do tax breaks for corporations force the universities to raise prices?

[-] 1 points by PROTESSTONER (70) from New York, NY 2 years ago

Without the income from said taxes they have to raise the rate, simple economics. There is also the rise in cost of 'administrators' and student services. Once again those in charge make more, and those paying get less.


[-] 1 points by number2 (914) 2 years ago

I think it has become all about the administrators

[-] 0 points by cmt (1195) from Tolland, CT 2 years ago

Because their costs are going up in a normal manner (inflation) while their non-tuition income (support from the state) is going down. So tuition gets hit with double price increases.

Because incomes are down, the income and sales taxes are down, so the states are financially squeezed. They are cutting everywhere. When they cut the money they give colleges and universities, tuition and fees go up just to keep things in the same place.

And while we're on this, private universities are also in an income squeeze. They rely on endowments - that is, the nest egg that gets invested - for income. When investments do poorly, they have less non-tuition income, and investments have crashed twice in recent years.

They also rely on donations, mainly from alumni, for income. That's down as well.

Ouch - all around.

[-] 0 points by MikeyD (581) from Alameda, CA 2 years ago

Because the average salary of a public university Professor is 350k, not to mention what the trustees, and administrators take home. Did I mention the top 1% of incomes in the US is 385k per year?