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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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Strange how students from China and India flock to colleges & universities in the U.S. But let's let the libertarians do for American higher education what they did first for U.S. manufacturing and then did for U.S. finance. Why not finish the job of destroying the United States entirely.

And let's have engineers who don't know Locke from Blake or Hegel from Hobbs. Imagine if they hadn't the foggiest about WWII, the great depression, or the cold war. After all, what does have to do with important things like paying for your latte with your cellphone?

Maybe public colleges & universities and Pell Grants and the GI Bill, are really the good things they were intended to be? Nawwww.....

I am a former college professor turned work from home entrepreneur. I actually started researching legitimate work from home jobs years ago when I was trying to help students find unique methods to fund their education.

The bottom line in this day and age is that most students don't understand the implications of students loans and student loan defaults are going to be the next thing to crash in our economy. Unfortunately, students can't discharge these in bankruptcy and they follow them forever.

In my opinion, its better to go to school a couple years longer, work to pay at least a portion of tuition and apply for as many grants as possible. In addition, start out at a lower cost community college before heading on to a more expensive institution.

Contrary to popular belief, there are jobs out there for struggling college students and many LEGITIMATE types of work from home / telecommuting work can be found online if you know where to look. I'm not talking mlm and business opportunity scams but real work with large companies like Dell, United Health Care, American Express etc.

With a little knowledge and allot of pereservence, students can finance some of their education and lower their debt significantly upon graduation.

For more information on legitimate work from home for college students, check out the Legitmate Online Job Directory at www.LegitimateOnlineJobDirectory.com.

I hope this helps.

I am a former college professor turned work from home entrepreneur. I actually started researching legitimate work from home jobs years ago when I was trying to help students find unique methods to fund their education.

The bottom line in this day and age is that most students don't understand the implications of students loans and student loan defaults are going to be the next thing to crash in our economy. Unfortunately, students can't discharge these in bankruptcy and they follow them forever.

In my opinion, its better to go to school a couple years longer, work to pay at least a portion of tuition and apply for as many grants as possible. In addition, start out at a lower cost community college before heading on to a more expensive institution.

Contrary to popular belief, there are jobs out there for struggling college students and many LEGITIMATE types of work from home / telecommuting work can be found online if you know where to look. I'm not talking mlm and business opportunity scams but real work with large companies like Dell, United Health Care, American Express etc.

With a little knowledge and allot of pereservence, students can finance some of their education and lower their debt significantly upon graduation.

For more information on legitimate work from home for college students, check out the Legitmate Online Job Directory at www.LegitimateOnlineJobDirectory.com.

I hope this helps.

Marketplace Money, you have been taken over by the conservative media. You have a story by someone from the American Enterprise Institute and then a "another opinion" from the Cato Institute! Your reporting is becoming more biased with the passing of every week. Please, can you start doing reporting and get different viewpoints?

Our land grant colleges have been the envy of the rest of the world for several generations and other countries would love to copy them. States have cut funding every year for the last five years. I was able to work my way through a state university in the 70's. Based on the cost, now I wonder how many students can do that without parent or government assistance. It is interesting to note that for-profit colleges are dependent on students getting government loans and grants. Would they be in business if it was not for student loans?

Simple math! Minnesota decreases support by $89 per student per year and the school charges several hundred dollars more per student each year. The schools are the problem, not the State support. State schools have averaged a 25% increase in costs over the past 4 years, as States have lowered support by minimal amounts per student.

Doh! I couldn't bear to listen to more than a couple minutes to Neals' argument. Let's say it costs almost $14k in annual tuition to go to a UC today. The state kicks in another $11k per year. I haven't looked at Stanford's or Santa Clara U's tuition lately, but I bet it's north or maybe way north o $50k a year. That's a pretty big spread to close between the public and the private sector. Then you have the instance of the U of Phoenix milking money from people who really couldn't afford the education they were providing (and I would venture to guess that some of that was not accredited). What is Neal smoking? In this capitalist society, if we made public education private, nobody would be able to afford it, the masses would not get smarter and we would be looking at a depression worse than the 1930s. Is some tea party politician paying Neal to smoke this dope?

That is exactly the goal of the Gates Foundation in their push to privatize public education.......getting the country on computer-driven education programs....what a marketing ploy! The integration of innovation centers into universities in an attempt towards that privatization is the driver of cost.....students have been paying for the administration of universities linked to finance, corporations, and federal organizations like NIH. That is a lot of administration after all. Add to that the cost of building a research complex as advanced as any corporate research and development department needs and voila.......all the added expense of university tuition. So, if we get rid of all those corporate connections......because the public doesn't want to foot all of corporate R and D, job training, and marketing costs as much as corporations what us to. We want them out of our universities and colleges and back to simply paying taxes to support what worked as the finest university system in the world......working for a free and well educated American population.

Keep your hands off our public education system and pay taxes to support public education like you have in the past!

Tnx for an honest (particularly on public radio) discussion of this critical issue. Wish someone had said that much (50% wouldn't surprise me) of current and future student debt (principal and interest) will not be collected, particularly with new rules about forgiveness based on income (which presumed everyone is . So taxpayers will be forced to absorb (because of the federal guaranty) this currently off-the-books liability. (Note that there is huge amounts already "deferred" and "extended" that is not reported as delinquent, and other amounts on noninterest basis; much more to come (no blood in turnips, even if a legal obligation). Imagine getting home mortgages, car loans, and why not vacations loans, that do NOT require repayment if income is insufficient. Talk about wealth transfer! This program is way out of control, be it philosophy and art majors, hairdressers, or truck drivers. Federal and state dollars are enabling this sham, so should be severely restrained.

I'm reminded of how pilots thought they were demigods, hence their salary demands were a leading cause, followed by other unions, of bankruptcy of the airline industry. Lazy professors and administrators are no different. If there wasn't the govt subsidy, they would need to accept less or be unemployed like so many other americans. Let's plug this big leak fast, putting the education biz on a capitalist pay-as-you-go basis.

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