Why college costs will soon plunge

Tim Goral's picture

“My goal,” says the candidate, “is a healthier America. That is why I am setting an ambitious target of sending 1 million more Americans to the hospital in the next five years. To make sure they get there, I am announcing a new, low-interest loan program to help them pay for their treatment. This will ensure that hospital costs stay within reach of the typical American family.”

If you heard a speech like that, you probably would start scratching your head. Sure, people with acute medical conditions need hospital care. But most people don’t have to lie for weeks in a hospital bed to get healthy. And lavishing more money on hospital care will simply drive the price up — just as giving everyone a $2,000 vehicle subsidy would jack up prices for cars and trucks.

Yet this is what politicians routinely propose for higher education: Send more people to college, and give them more money to help them get there. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed cranking out 100,000 more college degrees in 15 years. Around the same time, President Barack Obama said he wanted the U.S. to have “the highest proportion of college graduates in the world” — which would more than double enrollment. His new higher-ed plan calls for yet more financial aid.

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