Paying a Premium for Higher Education (Opinion)

Tim Goral's picture
Friday, March 23, 2012

As public higher education struggles for funding it is only natural to expect cuts in services. But what about the other possibility – premium payments for what used to be free.

Consumers are getting more accustomed to paying fees for extra services. It’s expected in certain situations. First-class accommodations, for example, are something for which you would expect to pay more. Some concert promoters now charge premium fees for top seats and access to the artists. You get more for your money if you can afford it.

Where fees for extras lead to consumer angst is when the additional money is for something you always expected to get in the first place, such as checked baggage for your air travel. As a college student you could reasonably expect to get access to the courses you need to graduate.

That may no longer be the case at Santa Monica College. A radical change there is raising concerns that this simple expectation may no longer be a guarantee for their students, and that getting the courses you do need may require a premium payment.

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