Listen To The Story

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.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.