How to reduce the price of college

What obligation does the public sector have to provide an education, specifically a higher education to the people?

Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute says none. McCluskey says that state involvement with higher education is the reason college costs are escalating so quickly. He says that because the federal government provides grants and loans to prospective students, colleges and universities have an incentive to raise tuition to capture that cash.

"We're seeing people having to pay way too much for way too little education that's of value," McCluskey said. "And way too many people paying for things they ultimately either aren't motivated enough to finish or unable to finish. So yes, education is important, but we have way overspent on education."

McCluskey agrees there is a direct relationship between education and income levels. But he says that there is evidence that shows that greater government involvement in higher ed translates to slower state economic growth.


See how much your state spends per student on higher education. Explore our interactive map.


His solution is for the state to withdraw from higher education and allow the private sector to control colleges and universities. Because the private sector receives no public assistance, they'll be able to run more efficient education systems, lowering costs and not burdening taxpayers, while maintaining access.

Take a listen to our extended interview with McCluskey for more details about his thoughts on the public and private sectors in higher education.

About the author

David Lazarus is an American business and consumer columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

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