At one point, a college degree wasn’t just important; it was essential. As more people attempted get a degree, colleges started raising tuitions. At the same time, politicians increased funding for Pell Grants while increasing other government subsidies for college educations.

When colleges learned that they could raise tuitions without fear of financial reprisal, they accelerated their tuition increases. Universities knew that state and federal politicians would, in essence, bail them out with more higher ed funding at the state level and more grants from the federal level.

That bubble is about to burst. Reading this USA Today article confirms that theory:

Universities and colleges are giving $5.3 billion in aid this year to students who the federal government says don’t need financial help, according to figures from the College Board.

An additional $4 billion in federal tuition tax credits went to families making $100,000 to $180,000, at least double the median income for U.S. households.

The schools use the money, more than 20% of all U.S. financial aid, to compete for applicants who have high grade-point averages and SAT scores. Some discounts serve another purpose: They lure high-income families that can write a check for the rest of the tuition.

The federal government shouldn’t be in the business of giving lucrative tax breaks on college tuitions to those that don’t need the help. For that matter, all tax subsidies should be eliminated as long as they’re coupled with lower tax rates.

Spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need is stupid. That habit must end ASAP. The other downside to this is that it just keeps the tuition increase cycle intact. At some point, we have to say stop!!! It’s time to get tuition back at a sane rate.

That day is coming. If college tuitions at brick-and-mortar universities don’t respond, rest assured that online, for-profit universities will respond to the opportunity by offering lower tuitions and a learn-on-your-timetable model.

Think of how many students would love attending a university that won’t require them to pile up massive amounts of student loan debt. Think of how many parents would love seeing these students get a great education that leads to great paying private sector jobs when they graduate.

Nature isn’t the only thing that abhors a vacuum. Markets hate them, too. If a businessman sees an opportunity to exploit, he’ll absolutely jump at that opportunity.

Don’t be surprised, either, if bigger shares of students don’t start migrating from the brick-and-mortar campuses to privately owned, for-profit universities. In fact, I’d predict that that’s the predictable outcome of this fight.

These privately owned, for profit universities will have another advantage over brick-and-mortar universities. They won’t burden their students with politically correct victimology indoctrination requisites like their brick-and-mortar brethren ‘feature’.

Lest anyone think that this transformation is a generation away, think of how many students and parents would find a low-cost alternative to high-priced PC universities attractive. Once a viable option is presented on a large enough scale, the transition will happen quickly.

Brick-and-mortar universities will always exist. That said, they’re living fossils that will soon be outdated.

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4 Responses to “The imminent higher ed transformation”

  • J. Ewing says:

    Better pay close attention, then, because Democrats are actively working to abolish and prohibit online college (and K-12) classes. There’s even a movement in the Minnesota legislature.

  • Gary Gross says:

    If the DFL wants to make that stand, let them. When they’re exposed as supporting brick-and-mortar universities solely to support their unions, they’ll be in an uphill fight. When parents find out that these profs are standing in the way of lower tuitions, parents will be furious. When students find out that they’re needlessly going into debt, they’ll be furious. There’s alot more parents & students who vote than there are professors & administrators.

    If the DFL wants to stand in the way of that freight train, let’s gear up for cleaning up the DFL roadkill.

  • Patrick Mattson says:

    Also the Dems want to take away choice in order to support their public union friends. I have often said that the brick and mortar schools exist now to support those who work there…. anyone ever ask them lately why they don’t use the buildings all year round for a full slate of classes.

  • J. Ewing says:

    As usual, the Dems are working feverishly to accomplish their skullduggery in the dead of night, before people find out. After it’s done, the only people who know will be those few already in such classes, and they millions who might make that choice (remember choice?) will never know what they were denied. That’s SOP for liberals.

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