The headline says that “College freshmen are wealthier than ever, according to a study,” which casts it in the usual “rich get all the breaks, poor get shafted” class warfare rhetoric. But the real story is that college tuition rates are higher than ever, meaning only those with the personal resources to attend can do so.
This academic year’s entering class came from families with income 60 percent greater than the national median, as tuition increases shut out lower-income students, the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a report yesterday. The gap was 46 percent in 1971, according to the study of more than 8 million students compiled over 40 years.
So where’s the problem? The way the headline puts it, the wealthy are the problem because they’re too wealthy, when in reality it’s the colleges for raising their costs too high.
Of course, no one asks why costs have soared so much. What is driving the tuition faster than inflation?
For years going back to when I was just starting out, colleges have claimed that even while they were raising tuition and fees faster than the rate of inflation, they were also making financial aid and scholarships more available … which is not unlike furniture stores that have perpetual sales on their vastly overpriced wares.
But in this scenario, the wealthy are unaffected and even the poor get by on financial aid, but it’s the middle class who get the short end of the stick who are told they have too much money to qualify for enough aid, but in order to use it they’d have to sell their home, liquidate their retirement funds and live on tuna all so Junior can attend a mediocre state college or second-rank private institution.
More taxes on Joe Q. Public
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