It's almost time for my boys to go to college.
Bart Hinkle's hopes can't come soon enough.
Aid to higher ed already has exploded: In 1964, federal student aid was only $264 million, or $1.7 billion in current dollars. Today, the feds shell out $105 billion a year just in student loans. Total federal aid has soared from $64 billion (in 2000) to $169 billion (in 2010).
Flooded with such largess, colleges have sent prices skyward (tuition is up more than 500 percent over the past three decades) and indulged in luxuries that would have made Marie Antoinette blush, from gourmet dining halls (sushi at Bowdoin, vegan at JMU) to rock-climbing walls. Last month, Virginia Commonwealth University announced the construction of two new dorms that will add 426 beds. Their $41 million cost comes to more than $96,000 per bed. Thank goodness Virginia is, comparatively, fiscally conservative: Princeton recently built a dormitory at a jaw-dropping cost of almost $300,000 per bed.
Trend lines like these cannot go on — and they won’t. But not because of politicians’ efforts to rein in college costs. College costs will drop because of market forces politicians will be powerless to stop.
My first college semester had a tuition under $500. It would be nice to head that way again.