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No Mercy No Malice

Inflated

November 19, 2021

In 1980 a gallon of gasoline cost $1.19. Today it’s $3.41, a 2.7% annual increase. But undergraduate tuition has risen nearly three times as fast: 6.7% a year at public colleges, for an increase of nearly 1,400%. The greatest assault on middle-class America’s prosperity may be the relentless, four-decade-long inflation in higher education. Student loan debt ($1.7 trillion) is now greater than credit card debt. And that doesn’t account for the busted 401(k)s, second mortgages, and general financial oppression me and my colleagues have levied on lower- and middle-income households. The number of Americans who have more than $100,000 in student debt is greater than the population of Utah.

(Note: Huge thanks to College101 and Stig Leschly for much of the data in this piece.)

This sustained inflation has been devastating for lower- and middle-income households.

And this ability to raise prices faster than inflation is really impressive given the industry is one of the most heavily subsidised in the U.S.

 

How Did We Get Here?

Higher education’s ability to soak America is a function of limiting the supply of freshman seats at our best universities in concert with the continued fetishization of their brands. We can scale Salesforce, Facebook, and Google by 25% to 60% per annum, but we can’t seem to bust above 1% per year at our great public universities. The top 200 schools in America educate only 10% of college attendees. And these universities raise prices in perfect lockstep, miraculously, resulting in millions of kids who get arbitraged to mediocre universities but pay an elite price. It’s a cartel, enforced by the accreditation organizations, institutions who are as corrupt as the NCAA … minus the charm. Accreditation has teeth because it determines access to federally guaranteed student loans. And in the last 20 years, these organizations have blessed only 159 new institutions — most of them small and specialized schools — which have collectively grown total enrollment by less than 0.15% per year. The result is an ossified industry near void of real innovation, as … why would we?

Rejectionism

Acceptance rates have plummeted, turning senior spring from a time of optimism and opportunity to one of anguish and sacrifice. Kids are still getting into college (total enrollment has kept pace with the growth in graduating seniors) but more and more are shuffled down to lower-tier schools that charge a top-tier price for a credential worth far less.

College deans boast about low admissions rates. But if you accept 5 of every 100 applications, that’s not a 5% admission rate. It’s a 95% rejection rate.

This is un-American. Despite well-publicized stories of billionaire college dropouts, a college education remains the most powerful tool for upward mobility. In my age cohort, it’s common to hear people say of their alma mater, “I never would have gotten in today.” Many of the same deans and administrators crowing over their sky-high rejection rates are enjoying lofty six-figure salaries, at 60, from institutions that would reject them if they were 18 today. They’re immigrants who, on the day they’re sworn in as citizens, vote to militarize the border.

Just as we’re beginning to sentence the insurrectionists, who didn’t believe in democracy and wished to take power by force and deceit, we must also register the threat to America of rejectionists. These are institutions and people that unwittingly sequester upward mobility to the rich and freakishly remarkable … at 17. Elite school alumni who wish to pull up the ladder to prosperity behind them. Higher education decries insurrectionism, but it’s ground zero for rejectionism.

Rejectionism is cloaked in progressive policies. It’s true that the student body at these institutions is more diverse than it was 40 years ago. And that’s great. But it’s not an excuse for maintaining a rejectionist posture. The mission is to expand opportunity, not reallocate elites. Bigotry is prejudice against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular group. Haven’t we in higher education become bigoted against unremarkable kids from lower- and middle-income households?

Bloat

Too much money has gone to the establishment of colleges’ administrative super state. Virtually every other industry has leveraged technology and volume to decrease the burden of overhead costs.

Administration should not grow 1:1 with faculty or 3:1 with students. The Yale Daily News recently reported that, “the number of managerial and professional staff that Yale employs has risen three times faster than the undergraduate student body.” Longtime professors described how burdensome and inefficient they found the swelled ranks of administrative functionaries. Elite schools are rife with recently created centers and departments that are noble in mission but have no measurable output. Many provide a way station or rest home for formerly important people or faculty who aren’t pulling their weight.

There are, to be fair, good reasons for increases in administration in targeted areas that need to be addressed. The greatest need is in mental health: 47% of college students are depressed, up from 23% in 2007; and only 40% of those depressed have received mental health treatment. Between 2007 and 2017, suicidal ideation among college students nearly doubled. Today, roughly 1 in 10 college students report that they’ve attempted suicide. Black college students are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide as their white peers. Trans students are three times as likely to do so as their cisgender peers. But unchecked bureaucratic power is cancer even with the best intentions. Especially with the best intentions. Nobody wants to criticize a “center for diversity” or “sustainability.” But to the extent exorbitant tuition is the product of an increased budget to build stronger support systems for a more diverse body of students, it isn’t working.

And that’s a kind interpretation, because student-directed programs are not where all the flab is to be found. At the Ivies, student services expenses as a share of total expenses have actually gone down since 2000 (from 4.8% to 4.4%). The real bloat at these schools is the inward-looking bureaucracy. Academic administration, executive management, business operations, and the like. Across the Ivy League, the share of total expenses allocated to institutional and academic support went from 19% in 2000 to 24% in 2020.

At four-year colleges nationwide, it’s bloat and more bloat. Between 2010 and 2018, spending on administration far outpaced instructional outlays. And there’s one more place the bloat is endemic. Senior leadership salaries.

Some examples: In 2018, after being ousted, USC President Max Nikias received a $7.7 million payout. He was one of a dozen university presidents to make more than $2 million that year. Even presidents of relatively unknown schools, including Bryant and Johnson & Wales, enjoy multimillion-dollar salaries. Many public college leaders register enormous paydays: Last year the president of the University of Kentucky made $1.7 million, the presidents of Texas A&M and the University of Florida each made $1.6 million, and another 13 clocked more than a million. Nearly all of the 100 highest-paid civil servants in Massachusetts are employed by (wait for it) the University of Massachusetts.

Faculty and leadership should be paid well. But my boss at NYU, President Andrew Hamilton, makes over $2 million dollars per year. He donates $75,000 of it to a scholarship fund. In case you’re wondering, I’ve returned all my NYU compensation for the past decade (#virtuesignalling). This isn’t an option for most faculty. Should Andy be making 16 times the average salary of an NYC school principal? The fiduciary boards of these institutions will claim they’re victims of supply/demand and the market. Bullshit. We’d have a line out the door of applicants who would take a modest salary of … a million a year. Anyone who would take the job of university president for $2 million per year but would turn it down for $1 million probably shouldn’t be a university president. That $1 million per year could fund 12 undergrads’ full-ride scholarships, or increase the number of freshman seats.

What Can Be Done?

  • Private company leadership needs to increase the number of entry-level jobs based on a skills assessment, vs. certification (see above: fetishization of elite colleges). Develop relationships with local public institutions, including two-year schools, that charge modest tuition: That’s where you’ll find the unremarkables with the potential to become remarkable.
  • State governments also have leverage. We need a Grand Bargain. In a time of scarcity, be bold. Offer to increase state system budgets, but demand that the enrollment grow faster than revenue, not the other way around. Every state should be aiming to increase undergraduate seats by 50% in the next decade.
  • The FTC/DOJ should evaluate the accreditation cartel and the dollar-for-dollar price increases taken by supposedly competing universities over the past 40 years for compliance with antitrust law.
  • Schools of all types should embrace distance learning and other technological tools. These are force multipliers, allowing the institutions to serve more students without building more ivy-covered temples to bloat.
  • Nonprofit should mean public service, not a dragon’s hoard of endowment riches. Schools with multibillion-dollar endowments should increase their class sizes or be taxed on endowment gains.
  • The accreditation system should be revamped to encourage the founding of strong, public-service-minded, nonprofit institutions, not protect the incumbents.
  • Dramatically increase student loan forgiveness programs. Canceling all student debt is a bad idea, rife with inequity and moral hazard. But our human capital is over-encumbered by debt incurred under false pretenses.
  • Crimp the firehose of student loan money by putting schools on the hook for a portion of the bad debt; encourage Pell Grant acceptance; and invest in financial literacy for 18-year-olds being asked to make one of the most consequential financial decisions of their lives.

74

The best things in my life — kids who made headslist this semester, a supportive mate, and financial security that (generally) enables me to do whatever I want, whenever I want — are a function of one thing: 74. Specifically, in the eighties, UCLA had an acceptance rate of 74%. I (no joke) had to apply twice. I was the first person on either side of my family to graduate from high school, much less get to attend amazing institutions for undergraduate and graduate degrees. The cost? $7,000 (total) in tuition for a BA and an MBA.

In addition, I was presented this opportunity as a function of being good, not great … much less remarkable. Higher ed catalyzed an upward spiral of prosperity for me and my family that’s been good for the commonwealth — we love America and are good citizens.

Today the acceptance rate at UCLA is 12%. Since I graduated, the number of graduating high school seniors in California has grown nearly twice as fast as the number of undergraduate seats at UCLA. To its credit, the UC system has announced plans to add 20,000 more seats to the system by 2030.

At night, alone with the dogs, I hear voices. (No shit.) Not strange voices like the dogs telling me to head to Kroger’s in my underwear. But the voices of millions of kids who have one question: “Boss, you got yours, where is mine? When do I get my shot?” America is not about making the children of rich people and the remarkable billionaires, but giving everyone a shot at being a millionaire and/or making a contribution. American higher ed has become un-American. We need to fall back in love with the unremarkables, and return to America.

Life is so rich,

P.S. Making predictions can be dangerous. It might put you in the Twitter crosshairs of Elon Musk. Yet I carry on. Join my free Predictions livestream on December 7. You probably won’t regret it.

103 comments

  1. TONY PANAGIOTU says:

    Scott, a good start! We have a horrible system with no accountability with our institutions. How do we fix this…let us count the ways. We can start with the institutions who put out an inferior product with graduates not prepared with even basic writing skills upon graduation. Continue with Tenured professors, who upon being knighted tend to not give a shit about actually teaching students! News flash, if you are a true professional you don’t need to hide behind the shield of tenure (fancy unions). College was designed to be for those with superior academic skills and drive. Many kids are not ready for college and many also are just not college material but would be best suited in trades,etc. Others are there just because their parents will and can pick up the tab. It’s probably worse now but when I was in college about 1/3 of the students really should not have been taking up space. Kids need to be accountable as well. They need to understand the costs and benefits or their decision to attend college and then put in the effort. Many do, but sadly others are just having a good time. (To quote the late John Belushi in Animal house…Seven years of college down the drain……Just like the financial crises there are many to blame. Start with the institutions themselves and look outward.

  2. Evan Press says:

    Scott, thanks. I am a UC Berkeley Grad, now retired. Increased educational inequality is part and parcel of our general increased economic inequality. The result is the dangerous political polarization and rage that might end Democracy in America.

  3. Glen McGhee, FHEAP says:

    Well done documentary on student loan debt by Dave Ramsey.
    borrowedfuture.com “How Student Loans are killing the American Dream.”

  4. Tim says:

    Universities need to adapt to leverage the scale & cost savings of online programs. I’m halfway through Georgia Tech’s online MS in Computer Science with an expected out-of-pocket cost of ~$8,500 total for a degree equivalent to the on-campus degree. The program has scaled over 10,000 students (63% domestic citizens) in 5 years. Acceptance rate for the online program is over 80% compared to the on-campus rate of <15%, but rankings have not dropped in the ~5 years since the online program started.

    These are the success stories we should talk about.

  5. Corry says:

    Yea so I’m the same way broski

    • Jacob Holloway says:

      So the claim is that college access should be expanded because college provides socio-economic mobility. Are we overlooking that correlation ≠ causation? What if college largely correlates with increased success because it acts as a gateway, not because of the experience itself? Not saying that it’s right, but we would be foolish to create policy without acknowledging this reality.

  6. Lee G Maxey says:

    3 More things that can be done…
    1. Wean institutions off the crack-like College Rankings
    2. Recognize the Common App has artificially increased the number of applications and therefore increased rejections (at volume this is a new cottage industry worth examining)
    3. If we increase the “unremarkables” in college, then more/different support scaffolding is necessary to help them succeed.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      2. how much do you estimate the Common App has artificially increased the numbers? Enough to affect Galloway’s by an order of magnitude?
      3. Yes, some college-age kids haven’t had the luxury of cosmopolitan upbringings. Some were raised on well water and a fatalist, rejectable mindset. They will necessarily need a different support structure. Shouldn’t be a problem for Big College

  7. Steve Peterson says:

    Innovation only occurs on the margin. Perhaps prisons provide a path to university renewal. After a PhD at the U of Chicago and a Wall Street career I began teaching classes on money and investing at Cook Co jail. No crappy critical theory. Students that are deeply alive. No academic bureaucrats. And a venerable intellectual tradition of prison literature -Cervantes, Boethius, Wilde, King, Paul, Dostoevsky. Where are the social entrepreneurs?

  8. Bruins Fan says:

    The community college system in the state of Connecticut is being decimated. Please read, “ https://ctmirror.org/category/ct-viewpoints/new-org-chart-for-state-community-colleges-is-built-upside-down-jon-brammer/”. Article subtitle is “Instead of a lean management structure, we get a turgid, corpulent mess.” Accreditors (NECHE) are failing the country.

    • Glen McGhee, FHEAP says:

      Accreditation needs to be better understood as the operation run by impotent, superannuated Guild Overlords, left over from aging colleges and universities, whose role is to maintain the status quo (i.e., Federal Title IV funds flowing uninterrupted).
      NEVER in history have Title IV accreditors gotten themselves involved — other than a superficial investigation of political interference here and there — in the internal affairs of their membership. Accreditors will not do anything that jeopardizes their dues and fees coming from the member colleges and universities because they are, essentially, a higher education Guild, better understood as a trade association. Lastly, they tend to be dominated by their more prestigious members, and pay little attention to what’s going on below their status-level.

    • Dan M says:

      Unbelievable. Looks worse than the org chart for my 76,000-person employer! Here’s Bruins Fan’s link again: https://ctmirror.org/category/ct-viewpoints/new-org-chart-for-state-community-colleges-is-built-upside-down-jon-brammer/ (link above includes the quote symbol at the end and so doesn’t work).

  9. Max Rapaport says:

    To make a long story short, perhaps the focus should be on creating more world class state universities, with tuition similar to that at, for example, the University of Toronto or LSE? The US is the ONLY developed economy in which the top universities are primarily private, and where the top state schools are primarily funded by athletics.

  10. c cook says:

    I remember reading a while ago that NYU paid Paul Krugman like $250K a year to teach ONE course. No doubt his other employer, the NY Times, will editorialize about how wrong tuition increases are. And not make the connection.
    Part of the Celeb fueled left.

  11. Tom Ziglar says:

    What it… college professors got paid based on a percentage of what students were willing to pay to go through their class? What if businesses “drafted” high school kids and paid their tuition and expenses and in return the kid agreed to work for the business for a number of years at a reasonable rate but with no debt? The current system is broken and needs to be turned inside out. The scaling of distance learning and technology is being ignored

    • Glen McGhee, FHEAP says:

      Yes, the “current system is broken and needs to be turned inside out.”
      Let’s look more closely at scaling of training/learning — earlier, all learning was local (family, community) — indentured apprenticeship survived for centuries before it was killed off by the industrial revolution; it was only in the 1920s that commercial business schools were established (see especially Groeger 2021) to take advantage of the “scaling” changes in economic life, like corporatization, expanding markets, advertising, and, most of all, the managerial revolution — commercial business schools were soon to be supplanted by public high schools offering stenography, penmanship, bookkeeping, typing classes.
      The computer revolution in accounting and bookkeeping made training scalable — that is, before the complexity of the work exploded — and now, skills are eroding 50% every five-years, giving us a 5 yr half-life for all skills learned, undermining scalability AND requiring immense resource commitments just to keep up with the changing work environment.
      Worse yet, job polarization (wage gap, but also including simultaneous upskilling AND deskilling) is leaving menial jobs for 80% of grads (losers) and 20% (winners). Randall Collins (2013) puts it this way: the “school system tells its students that it is providing a pathway to elite jobs, but spills most of them into an economy where menial work is all that is available unless one has outcompeted 80% of one’s school peers. … It is implausible that in the future the entire labor force will be scientists or skilled technicians. Indeed, the largest area of job growth in rich countries has been low-skilled service jobs for which it is cheaper to hire human labor than to automate.”
      Yeah, “current system is broken and needs to be turned inside out” — but who needs higher ed if decent jobs are so scarce that no one can find them? or they require 10 to 20 years experience — simply to replace someone retiring?
      These problems reach more deeply into the mechanisms of successfully transitioning youth into adult life — socialization. And, if you follow this, young adults are being hammered in terms of wealth accumulation, failure to launch, and other milestone delays, like marriage, home buying and family formation. Student loan debt carries at least part of the blame for the misfiring going on.

    • Glen McGhee says:

      Every (good) teacher knows that every student is different — unique, in fact — and that “learning” for that student is also unique. Simply put, learning is not scalable. One size does NOT “fit all.”

      • Tom Ziglar says:

        Is it possible to use learning technology to address more than one learning style? I agree one size does not fit all otherwise our current system would have better results.

        • Glen McGhee says:

          I don’t know about “learning styles” — just another approach to scaling-to-the-masses?
          This is what haunts me: “At night, alone with the dogs, I hear voices. … the voices of millions of kids who have one question: “Boss, you got yours, where is mine? When do I get my shot?” Youth apocalypse.

  12. Barry Winograd says:

    There is a potential paradox in the author’s appropriate and critical comments; that is, the risk of an unintended outcome at odds with the path proposed. Let’s keep it in mind. One view of the Free Snlyeech Movement at UC Berkeley in fall 1964 is that it was only about resistance to restrictions on student expression on campus. Another view is that the movement was responding to the full blown emergence of mass higher education as a necessary feature of a modern industrial society. On this, perhaps it is worth listening to Mario Savio’s address to thousands at a rally in December 1964. The rally followed months of protests and preceded a sit-in at the administration building at which 773 protesters were arrested. Here is a link to the full eight minute audio and text of the speech given by Savio, then 22 years old: https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mariosaviosproulhallsitin.htm. (For those interested in seeing and hearing Savio, there are video news clips for a small portion of the speech – the section about “bodies-upon-the-gears” – but I could not find a complete video. There were no smartphones 57 years ago.)

    • Marti TIRINNANZI says:

      That is a powerful speech by Savio. Thank you for sharing that, Barry!

    • Glen McGhee, FHEAP says:

      Yes, a very moving and heartfelt speech from the whirlwind. Those wheels and cogs have gotten bigger since then, and grind souls down even more now.
      One historical point is worth noting — if you’ve read Cristina Groeger’s history of education in Boston 1880-1930, there are ample examples of college students (ex. Harvard) being deployed as strike breakers. As occupational stratification heated up in 1900s, colleges represented the upper-class stratum, and unions the lower-class. Historically, there WAS conflict, if only because colleges produced future managers and bosses, whose DNA was anti-union. In fact, faculty at my CC in the South never unionized because admin dominated it so totally. So, Mario’s analysis is still relevant for understanding the history of the union / college tensions.

  13. Cookie Monster says:

    You hope that they “fix it before it is too late”.
    ?
    In more Breaking news…. the Sky is Blue.

    So….
    what other INSIGHTFUL revelations do you have?

  14. Sharon says:

    As a Canadian, I am fascinated by the number of articles I have read in the last few years that have the common theme of ” this is not America” I hate to break it to you but in fact, it is America!!! I truly hope that people wake up to the fact that America is not great, it is not on any of the greatest list of anything that Americans should be proud of. I truly hope that as a country, you wake up, smell the coffee and instead of one more article that states ” this is not America’ you see what America is and fix it before it is too late

    • Cookie Monster says:

      You hope that they “fix it before it is too late”.
      ?
      In more Breaking news…. the Sky is Blue.

      So….
      what other INSIGHTFUL revelations do you have?

    • c cook says:

      I love Canada, but also know dozens of your citizens who are in tech and medicine now in the US. Common theme, few opportunities at home. Declining healthcare, high taxes, and elitist central government. US has similar problems, but at least you can make it without as much Socialist friction. Look hard for successful tech startups in Canada. There aren’t many for a good reason.

      • Sharon says:

        There is a ton of opportunity here. Will you make less than in the US, sure. Will you pay more taxes, sure. But hopefully, you also sleep better at night knowing that we have universal health care, that everyone can afford to go to post-secondary education etc. If the Canadians that you know prefer to live in the US then all by means they can be my guest. Maybe they could pay back “our elitist” government back for their subsidized education????

      • Molly says:

        Jeff Daniels in HBO’s show “Newsroom” shares your sentiment … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEyUWKJFER8

  15. c cook says:

    The cost of education seems to rise with the move left politically. Universities are where teachers and staff can make good money, have protected jobs, and not worry about performance. Just have the right pronoun and sign all the petitions to save some animal. Ring the ‘diversity’ bell, and boom, $100G and you cannot be fired. One UC in CA has 18 people with the word ‘Diversity’ in the job titles, making over $100K/year plus top bennies. Toss in those hired to teach and staff completely useless majors, like say Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz, or Gender Studies at SF State. Flushed tuition… no usable skills, but lots of debt.
    What isn’t discussed in the media is the high dropout rate for Freshmen. All schools have this issue, kids are not ready. One way to fix is to require a break year after High School. Rather than reward acceptances on being a Quarterback or taking three AP courses in High School, how about working for a year in the real world? Not in daddy’s law office, but a real job like the other 90% of Americans do. That would result in more motivated Freshmen, or possible fewer kids going into tuition debt when they decide that being an Electrician is what the want.

    • Tom says:

      Depressing, yet hilarious stuff. 18 people doing f–ck all, at $100K+ a clip. You could give 50+ actual minority students a free ride with that money. With the caveat that they learn something that can actually be used to further their economic futures, rather than contemplating the intricacies of micro aggressions.

      • c cook says:

        Diversity hires and useless majors are the price cowardly left pays to prevent their campus’ from getting firebombed.

  16. Geoff says:

    A characteristically brilliant piece of controlled fury from Scott, with a number of sensible suggestions for change. But where is the leverage for change – where are the institutions or individuals with the power, coupled with the strong incentive, to put these suggestions into effect?

    • Glen McGhee says:

      Yes — no leverage for change. Federal government is committed to continue to fund higher ed at $2 trillion; and the States continue to float construction bonds, and allocate funding; and parents and students continue to pay for exorbitant tuition and fees.
      The only answer is a radical re-set due to external shock of some kind; hopefully, I won’t be around to see it in my lifetime — the Great Recession / financial collapse was bad enough, as is Covid — but nothing much happened at the level of social institutions (well, organized religion has taken a massive hit). Financial collapse, as predicted by Black Swan / power law theorists would be devastating, or a collective panic / psychosis. Many of these scenarios are discussed in “Does Capitalism Have a Future?” (2013) and Randall Collins’ chapter is devoted to the future of higher education. Or this entertaining and fanciful (I hope) piece on mass psychosis. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09maaUaRT4M

  17. Edward Kirklo says:

    I applaud this bully pulpit. You have cast a light on an obvious but under-the-radar transformation that is cross-generational. May your voice become even louder. Opportunity is key to democracy and enlightenment. Greed and grasping older cohorts are complicit.

  18. Tom Stephenson says:

    Hello Scott,

    My mother was the first in her family to attend college, initially at UCLA and then Cal Berkeley, graduating in 1938,. She followed that with service as a WAVE for six years during the war, and later a mom raising five children until my father passed at 47. She went back to school for a teachers credential and ten months later began teaching civics and history, a career that spanned 30 years at the same school in Fullerton, CA. A product of the Greatest Generation to be sure. I graduated Cal State Fullerton in 1975 with a BA and Masters, financing it on my own for about the same amount of money as you. I offer this background to simply say I couldn’t do it under the current constraints. You’re so right to call attention to the bloated nature of the university system having seen it first-hand at the University of California, Irvine and especially most recently at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

    As a nation, we are vastly underperforming our true potential and leaving so many behind. I never read the Hunger Games nor watched the movies, for I believe we are living that nightmare in real time. I truly appreciate your clarion calls on education, wealth disparity, and the outright theft of our democratic, pluralistic society for all those who deserve a simple chance to live a meaningful existence. Please retain, sharpen, and manifest your outrage and know that you are providing clarity and purpose for people in our country and around the world. Thank you.

    Tom Stephenson

  19. VVS says:

    I already commented here about elitist education in USSR – it was egalitarian in financial sense (no tuition plus stipend pro-rated for grades), but elitist in terms of abilities. Admission rate in Moscow State was way lower than in Harvard, and as result my classmates have greater number of faculty positions in US universities and better publication record than Harvard class of the same year (same discipline). Overall US science is not sustained by US higher education, it heavily and crucially depends on imported talent. US doesn’t need to grant more degrees to mediocrities smoking weed for 4 years in exchange for tuition. In order to break the addiction to/dependency on foreign talent US needs to make higher education accessible to lower economic bracket by doing the same thing USSR did for smart kids and US is doing for kids good at throwing balls – academic scholarships, tuition-free and with living stipend. The rest should pay for college experience the same way some pay for girlfriend experience. Indulging in fantasies should be expensive.

  20. Michael says:

    Community colleges remain a great deal that should be used by people who otherwise need to borrow large amounts of money to go directly to a four-year college. Unfortunately, high-school seniors and their parents (and Scott) want their kids to go to the most prestigious colleges in the world and will borrow a ton of money to get them there. However, good studies have shown that students who are admitted to the Ivies but go to a state school do just as well as they would have if they had gone to the expensive college. Even those students who applied to the Ivies but were rejected still did as well in their career as those who went to the Ivies. So part of the problem with the high cost of higher education is that people want the most prestigious place regardless of the cost. Do you really want prestige (with no real benefit) if you have to live in debt for the rest of your life? Community college in Scott’s old neighborhood in California cost only $1500/year, something that anyone can afford with a part-time job. You will also save a lot of money if you live at home, as do most students in Europe.

    As for the expenses that the four-year colleges rack up, the salary of the president, while highly visible, is really small potatoes. The real difference between the cost of community colleges and the fanciest four-year colleges is that educating undergraduates is just a small sideline for those universities. Their real cost is that their faculty spend 90+% of their time doing their esoteric research, whether it is figuring out the role of poverty in affecting children’s brains, or reinterpreting a James Joyce novel, or figuring out how bees bring pollen to different flowers. All these efforts are fine, but they cost parents their life savings and cost their children their financial futures. The cost of administration seems high but has stayed constant at most campuses as a function of enrollment over the past 30 years. However, the cost of hiring, stay, a young largely untested biologist will often run into $2-3 million. The cost of keeping a German scholar as a professor, who teaches very little at a high-end college would surprise you.

    Finally, the idea that the Ivies just have to double their enrollment and everyone would be happy just makes no sense. If you admit 10%, rather than 5% of those who have applied, you still have 90% of the applicants disappointed and enraged that their wonderfulness was not appreciated. They would be much better off going to a school that they can afford (preferably starting at a community college) and just work hard at their studies. They will be just fine. Scott would have been just fine if he went to Cal State Fullerton and another state college for his MBA; it turns out that it’s the person, not the name on the diploma that counts.

  21. Michael Bateman says:

    Very good post. I would like to see the graph for Net College Cost as Percentage of Household income from 10,20 and 30 years ago. You have the current graph and like to see how that has changed over the years. Wages have been stagnant and not kept up with college either and would be interested in seeing that over the years.

    This really does impact the economy a lot too as when the kids come out of college they are paying back the student loans as opposed to either investing, buying house or buying household goods as late twenty years old typically do.

  22. Glen McGhee says:

    It’s also laughable to think that:
    “The accreditation system should be revamped to encourage the founding of strong, public-service-minded, nonprofit institutions, not protect the incumbents.” As Scott points out, accreditation is run by a cartel — more precisely, a Peak Guild — comprised of college and universities, that acts to defend the interests of its membership. It is not plausible for those responsible for keeping the flow of Federal dollars flowing to mess with the Golden Goose in any way. It ain’t gonna happen!

  23. Glen McGhee, FHEAP says:

    Sadly, there’s no mention here of **credential inflation** that’s driving the expansion of higher ed and skyrocketing tuition.
    “Educational credential inflation expands on false premises – the ideology that more education will produce more equality of opportunity, more high-tech economic performance, and more good jobs. Social class mobility in the United States has been stagnant since the mid-twentieth century, unaffected by the huge increase in levels of education over that period. … The proportion of good jobs has declined as the middle class has been hollowed out, and working-class jobs exist mainly in the poorly paid service sector.” (Randall Collins, 2013).
    Clearly, none of this is sustainable — student debt is about $2 trillion, will it stop at $3 trillion? $5 trillion? So, what comes next, then?
    Eventually higher ed will go the way of Indentured Apprenticeship; what comes next after higher ed?

    • c cook says:

      No higher ed. Community college for general education, taught by real teachers and not grad students who can barely speak English. After that, focus on industry credentials from FB, Google, AWS, Apple, MSFT, others. Why pay to listen to a bunch of left wing diversity garbage in the upper grades, when you can be doing work, learning skills, and meeting sober people in a job?

  24. Stuart says:

    Thanks Scott, Lots of system design wisdom in this…
    I hope the folks starting the University of Austin (Bari Weiss, Niall Ferguson, Pano Kanelos) are on your distribution list.
    They seem focused on the symptom (thought policing) rather than the cause (financial capture) as they bootstrap their venture and should be designing for long term survival in this ecosystem.

  25. Adi Garg says:

    Universities need to be unbundled, not reformed. What sector has voluntarily reformed by itself? Regulation is not likely to do it either. Better to make the university degree irrelevant. Replace it with a series of ‘certificates’ earned to demonstrate knowledge and skill over your lifetime. When the jobs demanding university ‘degrees’ disappear, universities will too – to be replaced by what we actually need – relevant timely knowledge.

  26. Paul G. says:

    Dear Scott, I always appreciate your big picture approach to any problem and challenge, because is also my way of thinking any topic. In this one, you achieve it in the diagnosis but not in the solutions you propose.
    You put most of the solutions in the hands of whom are the problem. Even I am not a fan of regulation, when cartelization and rejectionism are the animals to fight, you must dig deep with regulation at State and Federal levels.
    Also and fundamental, you need to construct an enemy for them. Step by step, to build a new competitive universal national college network. With some of the tools you mentioned, from distance learning, skill certificates, and more. Brilliantly you finish with “American higher ed has become un-American. We need to fall back in love with the unremarkables, and return to America.”
    To go from un-America to America, you need new institutions, because these ones will continue to try going the other way, the way they did the last 40 years, as you clear highlighted. Thank you again for your thoughts.

    • Glen McGhee says:

      “To go from un-America to America, you need new institutions, because these ones will continue to try going the other way …”
      I heartily agree — social institutions are not immortal — look at what happened to Indentured Apprenticeship — a centuries old way of distributing labor and teaching skills that collapsed when faced with wage labor, industrial revolution. What comes next, then? After higher ed?

  27. Andres Ferraro says:

    Hey Scott, I believe there is a solution you might be overlooking: Promote global college options. The colleges in the rest of the world outside the US are just as amazing as any US one, and if you open your horizon to the entire world, you can get an education plus become a “world citizen” and gain a perspective that will put you head and shoulders above the rest for a fraction of the cost and twice the mental expansion.

    • Glen McGhee says:

      None to this is sustainable — already there’s $2 trillion in student loan debt, not including the Shadow Debt that Scott mentions. Masters degrees are booming because the BA and BS have lost their value — EVEN as tuition costs have skyrocketed. It’s called Credential Inflation.

    • Glen McGhee says:

      None of this is sustainable — already there’s $2 trillion in student loan debt, not including the Shadow Debt that Scott mentions. Masters degrees are booming because the BA and BS have lost their value — EVEN as tuition costs have skyrocketed. It’s called Credential Inflation.

  28. Allen N. Blum says:

    As usual, I agree with you. There are two things in my opinion that will help improve our great country….affordable housing and the opportunity for higher education. I’ll save housing for another day.

    My interpretation of higher education might be different than yours. I see it as free access or very inexpensive access to community colleges with an academic & trade or skills program.

    Basic language, math & writing skills have to be taught combined with skills that result in real jobs. We will always need plumbers, electricians, welders, code writers, etc. We need to create local apprenticeship programs connected to these educational institutions. We can look around the world at corporations that have been successful with this idea.

    I have seen kids that have gotten an opportunity to succeed. Their life’s change. Their families change. Their communities change.

    Hope is not a strategy. Our country needs the investment.

    Allen

    • Glen McGhee says:

      “Our country needs the investment”? Seriously?
      There are too many diploma mills churning out worthless degrees, SO many that now student loan debt is $2 TRILLION and growing. If it were such a GOOD investment, then why do projections show that $500 BILLION in student loan debt will NEVER be recovered? Table 5 on page 70.
      https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/ConferenceDraft_LooneyYannelis_StudentLoanDefaults.pdf

      • c cook says:

        And, many of those diploma mills are part of ‘top’ Universities. What is the worth of a Feminist Studies, Gender Literature degree? Look at the garbage courses at ANY top university. Just a way to take taxpayer money and holding off the diversity crowd from burning down the campus.

        • Glen McGhee says:

          C Cook — have you spoken to your elected officials about this lately? They might be receptive to … cut funding — maybe: Mitchell Stevens / Randall Collins point out, college funding is the biggest hidden welfare transfer of payments for the middle class (although someone pointed out to me that Medicare/Social security was).

  29. john says:

    Interesting article. In Australia the same problem exists. Lets not forget the dumbing down of education, where everyone needs to pass, one way or another or, for one reason or another.

  30. Bryan M says:

    Great article! So great I read it twice.

    Is there any reason you didn’t focus more light(s) on the Boards of these institutions?

    • Glen McGhee says:

      Boards are composed of social climbers only interested in moving up the US News and World Report ranking ladder — it’s all about status and prestige. Try this Gedanken experiment — suppose you are a Board member that pushes something that would lower status, decrease prestige. How long would you be on the Board?
      Homophily also plays a role — Board members are chosen because they are “team players” and think like “team players,” and they are chosen to serve by OTHER “team players.” It is unlikely, probably impossible for *any* of them to “think outside the box”.

  31. Alex says:

    Good write up. Last piece specifically.
    But you always think big brother, the government, needs to do a better job regulating, that’s a basic flaw in your thinking. You are assigning work to an inefficient organization, and surprised it won’t work. It’s kind of like you believing in Santa Clause.

  32. David Fitchett says:

    On top of high tuitions, the 7 different universities that my immediate family and I are associated with manage to contact us several times per year to solicit donations. How is that for a slap in the “A-double-snakes” after we already paid them a bundle?

  33. Keith Murray says:

    You seem to be very much in love with OL programs. Of course, at some level they work for some people–but they SHOULD NOT BE SEEN AS A WORTHY SUBSTITUTE for real-live education and learning. To put the matter bluntly, I like working with other people who’ve successfully worked with others in a professional context/setting. Furthermore, I don’t plan to ever patronize a physician who got a OL mail-order degree; I don’t ever plan to ever patronize a dentist who got an OL degree; I don’t even plan to take MY DOG to a vet who graduated from an OL program. You get the idea, right?

  34. Todd Logan says:

    I agree with Scott’s sentiment wholeheartedly. I disagree with the focus on changing accreditation. Creating a university from the ground up is terribly difficult. Not only does it mean decades of difficult institution building, it also involves an incredible amount of risk for the faculty and students you need to recruit. Start-ups can attract over qualified talent by offering equity. Not so for colleges. There is no equivalent upside in joining colleges or universities early. Just look how challenging it has been for UC Merced or Cal State Monterey Bay. We do not need more colleges and universities; we need to heavily incent our current colleges and universities to grow while becoming more efficient. The most sought after private universities currently have no incentive to grow and few incentives to become more efficient. To change this it is more important to discredit the college ranking services than the accreditation services, as ossified as they might be. More importantly, government support to universities, in most of its forms (including direct subsidies, tax advantages, student support), should be proportional to the % of the state’s student population that they serve, or for the foreseeable future, the increase in the proportion of the state’s student population that they serve.

    Incenting colleges/universities to be more efficient is even more challenging. Elite universities are spending more than $100k/yr/undergraduate, far more than tuition. At Stanford, Harvard and others providing financial aid to the middle-class, it is even higher. This level of spending can make the undergrad experience extraordinary (otherworldly); this spending, more than tuition, is one of the reasons that the elite universities have no incentive to increase undergraduate enrollments. UC and State universities have large bureaucracies and are not known for efficiency. Still, they provide undergraduate education at less than half the cost. All of these institutions could take advantage of automation, yet universities are terrible customers for automation and as a result there is insufficient investment in academic automation.
    We are all coming to recognize globalization is accelerating the competition for the best educated workforce. The future of the country depends on enabling more Americans to successfully complete college.

  35. Jack says:

    Public subsidy (aka easy money) has enabled all sorts of bad behavior by colleges. They can raise price/unit at will. They can hire all sorts of bogus administrators and drive up their costs w/o risk to the enterprise. And then they can foist the consequences of their behavior onto their students who have to pay the bill. It’s immoral. It’s madness. Doesn’t easy money always and everywhere lead to trouble? Good article Scott. Please keep hammering away on this one.

  36. Renee Hill says:

    Can blog posts win the Pulitzer? Your willingness to out organizations that_you_work_for & made_you_famous is impressive and courageous, nobody is a monster here, but things need to change…favourite part “In my age cohort, it’s common to hear people say of their alma mater, “I never would have gotten in today.” Many of the same deans and administrators crowing over their sky-high rejection rates are enjoying lofty six-figure salaries, at 60, from institutions that would reject them if they were 18 today. They’re immigrants who, on the day they’re sworn in as citizens, vote to militarize the border.”

  37. bee says:

    they do not have permission to be using or sending me emails…watch for these people they sell your information and than you get tons of unwanted information

  38. Trang says:

    Great read. This should be submitted to all top 100 institutions at the least and all major newspaper outlets.

  39. Sasha says:

    In the age of online learning, can a young person or just anyone, teach themselves without going to college? There seems to be more solution to the same problem – making education affordable and useful, than just increasing the class size or lower the acceptance rate.

  40. Michael Rothman says:

    Very good piece. The notion that a high rejection rate is a sign of quality was neatly punctured in a fake press release in (I believe) the New Yorker a while back. In it Stanford announced that it had admitted no one at all for the following academic year, thereby proving incontestably that they were the best school.

  41. Amy says:

    Personally, I see many people, mostly men, who command handsome salaries but who lack education and learning. In my personal experience, an expensive and elite education yielded virtually nothing in terms of earning power. In retrospect, the money allocated up my education would have been much better spent on securing home ownership. I’ve never found an opportunity that compensates equitably for my skills and education. Invariably, I work for people who fancy themselves as bosses but are in fact less qualified. I would urge most people to forgo a pricey education because for the majority of graduates, the reward is largely mythical. The world of work is not a meritocracy and typical salaries and wages are tantamount to exploitation. The current system is inhumane and untenable.

  42. Casey Nobile says:

    Love all of your recommendations for fixing the issue, especially this: “Private company leadership needs to increase the number of entry-level jobs based on a skills assessment, vs. certification (see above: fetishization of elite colleges),” which can be done NOW to increase opportunity and upward mobility for so many talented-yet-under-recognized individuals. I’d love to see you highlight the companies who are doing this now against stats on the health of their businesses to show how this change doesn’t detract from growth or profitability (i.e., what are we waiting for?)

  43. john n augustine says:

    this is an awesome article and provides ways to remedy this mess….u hit the nail on the head with this issue Prof Galloway!

  44. Jim Fritzen says:

    Scott: See Mitch Daniels, President @ Purdue and what he has accomplished in his tenure so far.

  45. Evan Janovic says:

    Why not email the article to all the Ivy student run newspapers. They might reprint it so that Administration might see it.

  46. john coyle says:

    Wow. This almost certainly is the best article I have read this year. I have been mystified about how tuition continues to climb so swiftly and you so eloquently deconstructed the bloat. Similar to you I was fortunate to attend Stanford in 80’s. With their current 3% admission rate there is now way I would get in today (not sure of the admission rate then but in the 70’s it was ~30%). I was nearly 50 years old before I finally paid off my student loans from Stanford and then Kellogg. Thank you for this article and I hope it begins the groundswell needed to start shifting $’s to seats and students. It does remind me of another world I have lived in as a former Olympic athlete. Turns out 50% of $ revenues for the NBA and NFL must go to the players. Guess what % of the USA Olympic Committee funds goes to the athletes? Less than 5%. 95% goes to overhead… Please write that article next : )

  47. Elizabeth Giebel says:

    Class of ‘84 (wait for it) University of Massachusetts. My Dad was an engineer for the City of New York and paid the $8000 tuition with the extra money he made as a high school basketball referee. I’ll be paying the Parent Plus loans for my 2 kids well into my 70’s. Blessed to have them pay for their own Master’s.

  48. Johan Schlasberg says:

    Most people in Academia probably think they are pretty smart. Isn’t it a paradox that Academia is in the hands of very profitable global publishers for their journal articles and in the hands of both the accreditation cartel and ranking organizations for marketing and quality evaluations? At some point, I think that technology and entrepreneurs will create better solutions. (I hope to do my little share) That US colleges and universities, according to The Hechinger Report, spend more than 200 billion USD a year on marketing is yet another sign of that more than one thing is rotten in the education complex.

  49. Joel Gardner says:

    The analysis leaves out perhaps the most bloated aspect of major colleges and universities today–athletics. In nearly every state, one of the highest paid public employees is either a football coach or a basketball coach, and right up there with them is the dean of the medical school. There’s a case to be made for the latter, but not the coaches. The U.S. is the only nation in the world that subsidizes, in effect, semiprofessional sports. I’m as guilty as the next guy, a sports fanatic (though not a gambler), and I’m immensely proud that the alma mater Scott and I share produced the likes of Jackie Robinson, Rafer Johnson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But John Wooden never made more than $100 grand, and he lived in a small apartment in the San Fernando Valley. Mick Cronin makes $4 million. Though the cost of living in L.A. justifies a bit of that inflation, Ed Orgeron makes $6 million, and living in Baton Rouge doesn’t.

  50. Weimerica says:

    The ratio of administrators to students has exploded at the same rate as tuition, while the ratio of professors to students has remained the same and the quality of education has declined. These administrators are part of the wokester long march through the institutions, preaching that capitalists like you should pick up the tab for useless $200K gender studies degrees. They are mostly busybodies policing speech and mask wearing. Meanwhile your party will print trillions more dollars that will destroy the middle class with inflation. Modern universities are hedge funds and luxury finishing schools for the elite. The real builders of the future don’t need college because all of the knowledge they need is in the public domain.

  51. Raj says:

    Fantastic article, thank you for inspiring change in the university system. It is long overdue.

  52. Dan says:

    I get how expensive college is now, but undergraduate was expensive 30 years ago and I’m only now finally close to paying off graduate school 25 years later.
    One idea I would like to see promoted MUCH more is some sort of mandatory service: military, civilian, Peace Corps- whatever, but in return college, trade school or whatever- will be paid for.
    Every time I hear some jackass blabbering about how some CEO MUST be pornographically compensated I want to scream “yeah right, they are the ONLY ones who work hard!”
    If we want young people to believe hard work in America will be rewarded, then create an opportunity to do just that. It would also do something to address the whole goddamn “city mouse vs country mouse” and economic divide where no one talks to anyone outside their culture or class (oh yeah, mandatory service includes rich kids who haven’t faced compulsory service since end of draft).
    Point being EVERYONE will have skin in the game.

    • Phillip Soltan says:

      Great idea! The military already does pay for college in many cases but a civilian organization that could do the same would be fantastic.

  53. Tom says:

    I am at a state school where in my college admin has grown by at least 15x when I started with may 50% more students.

  54. Ryan says:

    Subscribe • View In Browser • Nov 19, 2021

    Musings on the week from @profgalloway
    Inflated
    Share Facebook Share Twitter Share LinkedIn
    In 1980 a gallon of gasoline cost $1.19. Today it’s $3.41, a 2.7% annual increase. But undergraduate tuition has risen nearly three times as fast: 6.7% a year at public colleges, for an increase of nearly 1,400%. The greatest assault on middle-class America’s prosperity may be the relentless, four-decade-long inflation in higher education. Student loan debt ($1.7 trillion) is now greater than credit card debt. And that doesn’t account for the busted 401(k)s, second mortgages, and general financial oppression me and my colleagues have levied on lower- and middle-income households. The number of Americans who have more than $100,000 in student debt is greater than the population of Utah.

    (Note: Huge thanks to College101 and Stig Leschly for much of the data in this piece.)

    This sustained inflation has been devastating for lower- and middle-income households.

    “And this ability to raise prices faster than inflation is really impressive given the industry is one of the most heavily subsidised in the U.S.”

    Scott, the reason WHY college prices have risen so much is precisely because of how heavily subsidized it is, as well as rubber stamping any student loan that someone applies for. There needs to be strict limits on the increase of tuition – and if there is any pushback then so goes the funding. Of course this will be difficult at the state level, as whoever moves first will be at a disadvantage to other states, but it must be done.
    Administrative departments at universities are public welfare at this point and are pure bloat. Those jobs need to be cut. Not 10%, 20%, 30%, but the majority of those jobs. Sound tough? They will be ok. Sally and bill graduating a university with no idea what to do professionally but in a 80k hole plus interest wont be.

  55. Neeta Vallab says:

    Thanks for this sobering analysis. As a parent who has gone through the admissions process 2x now this system literally sickens me. This is a closed marketplace (cartel) where consumers pay upfront based on opaque information to learn if they are worthy enough of spending $50K-$70K a year.
    While I like the idea of opening up accreditation, I can’t imagine the cartel allowing this. Colleges should innovate on their own–that seems a more likely step for incremental improvement- More remote classes that are cheaper, “cut the crap” student life fees, faculty that facilitates career opportunities, and career offices that deliver well-compensated careers to every graduate who wants one.

  56. Jeffrey says:

    Yes- the system is rigged. Progressive policies like student loan programs are meant to help do far more harm.

    Eighteen year olds should not be making such large financial decisions that almost all are incapable of understanding.

    We should do away with the loans as they only drive up the price of tuition in a market with limited seats. Basic supply and demand- economics 101 that our government regularly fails at.

    The flood of money from our insane federal debt expansion will only raise the cost of goods in an economy rife with shortages. This additional inflation will harm the poor and middle class the most as they do not own the assets that will increase in value.

    The folly of it all.

  57. Mark says:

    Great Post Scott- i am a proud trustee of a large not for profit, who’s mission is to serve those who otherwise might not have the chance to attend college. I have seen first hand, how lives can be changed, opportunity provided and those who would never had an opportunity end up as happy , productive and successful members of the community. I’m proud to think we are part of the solution and not the problem.

  58. ben says:

    Excellent piece. Have an in-state kid at Ohio State – amazing how the cranes move around campus, building and building, year after year for the last decade and never seem to leave – and the difficulty to get in (to main campus) goes up and up. I have several kids in high school and it’s impossible not to get caught up in playing the game by the rules that are out there – lots of applications, lots of fees to college board, great anxiety and uncertainty and they’re just kids like you say! I’d love to see some more of your simple line graphs: growth of college bound population (US) vs seats since 1980 vs. inflation vs cost vs starting salaries. I also predict a ‘fixing’ scandal for College Board/ACT all totally complicit in the the filthy lucre – more applications to more schools due to fear and high rejection equals more fees and more test taking (and prep)… and also there are way too many really good scores on their tests imho – or maybe we’re just in one of the bubble school districts where all the kids score over 30 / 1300. They’re like the Moody’s and the S&P to the financial crisis or the Levi’s to the gold rush, or like something. Two good books: The Fall of the Ivory Tower (Roche) and Where you go is not who you’ll be (Bruni).
    I do applaud you for managing to keep to the topic and not veering political. I only wonder how you maintain internal logical consistency — tend to believe the best fixes to government-created problems are, usually… more government.

  59. Doug Henningsen says:

    How Did We Get Here?
    Easily available student loans. I’d bet growth in loan proceeds matches the increase in university costs. In the late 2000s, home loans standards fell, home prices grew until the loans dried up.

    I really like the idea of “putting schools on the hook for a portion of the bad debt”.

  60. Glenn Younger says:

    Recent UC AFT gets big win after strike threat. Big pay raise, 4 weeks fully paid family leave, expanded insurance, etc. Supply of advanced degrees at record highs, with same number of lecturer positions. I can only wonder what administrators are thinking, “Let’s raise pay and benefits even higher, and raise tuition to pay for it”. The educational industrial complex rolls on.

  61. William Bourne says:

    We have the same problem here in the U.K. in higher education, a major change in how it is provided is overdue. But one underlying cause we have no control over is the growth in young people around the world aspiring to a top US or UK education. That’s not bad for the world. Our problem is our over-entitled kids often don’t have the same motivation to succeed as those from poorer countries and are losing out to the tougher competition. I’m not sure what you can do about that.

  62. Angry Academic says:

    Seems to be an error in the 1st image – public 4 year (dotted line) seems to be higher than private 4 year (gray line), which doesn’t jive with the next image.
    Regardless, it’s a fucking travesty. The proliferation of “Senior Associate Vice Deans” and “Presidential Assistants to the Senior Associate Vice Provost for Global Outreach” type positions, is driving a large part of this additional cost.
    Ben Ginsberg wrote a great book about this almost a decade ago: The Fall of the Faculty and the Rise of the All Administrative University (https://www.amazon.com/dp/0199975434). I’ve sent copies to several senior administrators at my institution.

    • Editor says:

      The first chart is growth, all the lines are indexed to start at 100. Public school tuition has grown faster than private school tuition, but private school tuition remains more expensive.

  63. Bert Doornmalen says:

    Great article and to the point,am eagerly awaiting your analyses on the so called medical health industry insurance in the US which is long overdue and is the most ridiculously expensive healthcare in the world without any benefits to the average contributor.

    • Ben Riley says:

      Well said Bert. The fact that the most wealthy major country in the world doesn’t provide basic healthcare for its citizens is criminal. It’s not socialist, to look after American’s health, it’s a basic service most prosperous, industrialized countries provide.

    • Phillip Soltan says:

      Medicare and Medicaid can’t even negotiate drug prices so something is broken. We no longer really have a Democracy because we only have 2 political parties that both need to raise enormous amounts of money that, realistically, can only come from corporations. If we don’t fix the political problem, that there is little actual representation of the desires of the people, then none of the other problems will ever get fixed!

  64. PVG says:

    There are three cartels in this country where costs are raised without any underlying justification: the military-industrial complex, healthcare and education. And they’re all based on fear.

    • Glenn Younger says:

      The most overpriced industries with the worst outputs continue to find ways to further raise the the pay and benefits of those inside. #EducationalIndustrialComplex

  65. zack porter says:

    “general financial oppression me and my colleagues have levied on lower- and middle-income households.”

    Shouldn’t that read “my colleagues and I”?

    You need an Ivy-League English major editor. Section 4 not enough.

    • Editor says:

      Hi, thanks for the feedback. Our copy editor has a bachelor’s degree in English from Yale University, as well as 20 years of experience as a professional copy editor. In his view, the colloquial usage “me” is preferred by most readers and more consistent with the tone of No Mercy.

      • zack porter says:

        Yale English !!?? Would the copy editor approve:

        “general financial oppression me levied on lower- and middle-income households”?

        “colloquial usage”? Does No Mercy No Malice use the Urban Dictionary as a grammar source?

        Good thing Section 4 only attempts to teach Marketing.