College bribes, tuition and peepers

By: 
Dennis Warden
Publisher

The college admissions scandal, dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues,” according to Andrew Lelling, US attorney for Massachusetts, was a big part of the national news recently.

In case you missed it thirty-three parents are facing charges for bribing officials millions of dollars to get their children admitted to some of the most prestigious colleges in the U.S.

Funny, but there has been no news about the political affiliations of those accused of wrongdoing. My bet is if any of them were conservatives or supporters of  President Donald Trump the news media would be all over this.

On the flip side one of those accused recently hosted a fund-raiser for Democrat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

More likely the reason this has not been explored is that, as a group, they lean to the liberal side of the isle. No matter what their political stance, this was a stupid crime and the guilty are going to face the consequences.

One wonders, is an Ivy League diploma worth the extra cost? I have some relatives who paid for their youngest child to attend Tulane University in New Orleans for her undergraduate degree several years ago. Current costs to attend Tulane is just under $50,000 per year.

According to MU admissions the cost for one year of education at our states’ flag ship university is $11,252. This does not include room and board, books and supplies or other incidentals like transportation which can bring the cost per year to over $28,000.

This is still expensive, but a much better deal.

I must confess that, although my parents didn’t have to bribe anyone to get me into the J-School at the University of Missouri in Columbia when I graduated high school in 1978, they did pay for my living expenses.

On the other hand I was required to pay my own tuition to the university. I’m sure you’re wondering how long it took me to pay off what must have been a huge student loan debt.

Well let me put your mind at ease. Yearly tuition to Mizzou in 1982, when I left college, was around $918 per year. At that time it was possible for anyone who worked hard during the summer to earn enough money to be able to pay tuition at any public university.

So why has the cost to attend college risen so dramatically compared to inflation in the last 30 years? There are many culprits but here are the top three.

1. Demand: According to the economic law of supply and demand the greater the demand for any product, in relation to it’s supply, the higher the cost.  According to the Department of Education, US colleges expected a total of 20.4 million students in fall 2017, about 5.1 million more than the fall of 2000. That’s over 30% increase. Also on this line of thinking, colleges spend millions of dollars to make their campuses inviting to high school prospects.

2. Financial Aid: In 1970, financial-aid programs were almost nonexistent. This theory says that as the government provided more student aid colleges raised their tuition. A statistic from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, shows that for every new dollar of federal student aid, tuition is raised by 65 cents.

3. Lack of state funding: This reason also coincides with demand. State funding has gone up some, but with enrollments rising dramatically the colleges are getting less money on a per-student basis.

The high cost of higher education is increasingly reducing the return of investment for a college degree — which takes many six years to complete.

This of course makes technical colleges like State Tech of Linn more valuable. 

—————— Spring Peepers ——————

On another subject my wife has been dragging me onto our deck almost every evening this last week to listen to the peepers — a sure sign that spring is just around the corner.

When she was a teacher I could understand her enthusiasm. Peepers equals the start of spring; spring means the end of the school year is near; the end of school means summer vacation.

It’s going to take her a little time to realize that for those of us not employed by a local school district we don’t have the summer off.

This is the main reason that we will never live in a big city. Without the sound of the spring peepers Connie would become depressed this time of year.

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