"Why am I paying so much tuition to people whose job seems to be telling me to call someone else?"
That was my daughter's lament last week as she tried to pry an essential form out of her college's labyrinthine bureaucracy, but it's a question that many Americans should be asking. Administrative bloat at American colleges and universities is out of hand, and it's probably the biggest cause of the skyrocketing tuitions that afflict students and parents today.
Everyone knows that tuitions have skyrocketed, though many may not appreciate the full extent of the problem. As University of Michigan economics and finance professor Mark Perry has calculated, college tuition increased from 1978 to 2011 at an annual rate of 7.45 percent. That far outpaced health-care costs, which increased by 5.8 percent, and housing, which, notwithstanding the bubble, increased at 4.3 percent. Family incomes, on the other hand, barely kept up with the Consumer Price Index, which grew at an annual rate of 3.8 percent.