What causes the high cost of college?

What causes the high cost of college?

In a new segment called “Reconsider This”, I’m revisiting the Flint, Michigan water crisis. There have been some good developments regarding accountability over this. While journalists are obsessing over the sole Republican in the chain of command (the governor), others are getting charged or at least looked at, including the Obama administration EPA.

Why is college tuition so high? The colleges would say that funding for grants and loans have been “cut” (even though government spending on education grants have skyrocketed). No, they real reason has more to do with colleges gaming the government-money system.

Mentioned links:

Criminal charges today in Flint water crisis

‘There will be more to come,’ attorney general vows after criminal charges filed in Flint water crisis

Lawyers file $220 million damage claim against EPA in Flint water crisis

The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much

Evan Sayet

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Show transcript

I want to take another look at the Flint water crisis, in a feature I’m going to call “Reconsider This”. I’ve done this sort of thing before, but now I have a fancy name for it. It’s where I revisit a topic to either reinforce what I said before, or to add some new information. This time, I’ve got a little of both, so let’s reconsider this.

The Michigan attorney general, Bill Schuette, filed criminal charges on April 20th against 3 state and local workers who were involved in the crisis. They are accused of falsifying data about lead in the water after the switch, and approving a water treatment plant that they knew wouldn’t provide safe and clean water.

Shuette said that this was just the beginning, and said there would be more to come, so higher ups may yet be charged. Now, as I mentioned the last time I talked about this, there are plenty of those higher ups involved; the city council, the city’s emergency manager, the mayor, the governor, and even the EPA, which knew about the problem about the same time the city did. But of course there’s this passage in the Washington Post article linked in the show notes.

[A]uthorities were asked repeatedly Wednesday whether they were investigating Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) or other top state officials. They repeated only that they would follow the facts of the case wherever they lead, no matter the outcome.

So authorities were asked by journalists whether the governor and other state officials were being investigated, and since it was journalists asking those questions, naturally they gravitated to the sole Republican in the chain of command. Oh, that liberal media.

I will note that AG Shuette is a Republican himself, giving me cause for optimism that all the various Democrats will indeed get looked at. And honestly, I don’t think Governor Snyder will avoid scrutiny himself. He is part of the chain of command, one of the barriers to stop this kind of thing from happening, so he bears some responsibility. But journalists and the Left (pardon the redundancy) are fixated on him.

Additionally, the EPA is being sued, even though it doesn’t sound like journalists were curious about this, either. There’s a $220 million lawsuit being filed on behalf of 500 Flint residents, with more to come later. You may not have heard about this on the evening news because, well, journalism.

So stay tuned. I’ll keep you up to date.


Used to be that previous generations paid for college with the money they made from their summer jobs. During the next few decades, however, public funding for higher education was slashed, which forced universities to raise tuition year after year, which in turn forced the millennial generation to take on crushing educational debt loads.

Well, that what those colleges and universities would like you to think. That’s the story they’re telling. But Paul Campos, law professor at the University of Colorado, says that this is nothing more than a fairy tale. Tuition has not quadrupled over the past 35 years because of spending cuts. Instead, he says, public investment in higher education in America is vastly higher, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was during the supposed golden age of public funding in the 1960s, and it has increased at a much faster rate than government spending in general.

Universities call this a “cut” because there has been a modest decrease in per capita spending, even though total spending has dramatically increased. But there’s another good reason the per capita number has dropped; when you make something cheaper with subsidies – when you manipulate the market – you artificially increase demand. Suddenly a lot more people want a piece of that pie, and you put pressure on those subsidies. Once again, when government messes with the market, there are consequences, usually unintended.

OK, but what about the costs. Subsidies haven’t kept up with the artificially inflated demand, but why are costs up? Are those professors getting rich off the government? Nope; teacher salaries are, on average, barely higher than they were in 1970. Who is getting the windfall? Well, it’s those same administrators who are trying to convince you that there’s been a cut in funding. Administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent just between 1993 and 2009, which was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.

These positions could be created because they knew the government money would keep coming in, and going up. The government started the game, and the administrators learned how to play it. Unintended consequences, indeed, but since this happens whenever government meddles in the market, you’d think they’d learn from experience. You’d be wrong.


And finally, comedian Evan Sayet recently posted this on Facebook. “It never ceases to amaze me how the Left will portray normal, heterosexual men as part of a “rape culture,” but if you suggest that these same men putting on a dress might commit rape they say that you’re a bigot.” Amazing what a difference a dress makes.

Filed under: Economics & TaxesEducationGovernmentGovernment Corruption