General Question

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

Why is tuition to most universities so expensive?

Asked by Aesthetic_Mess (7887points) October 5th, 2010

Most universities I’ve looked at have sky high tuition, and our family isn’t rich. Why do universities have such high tuition?

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15 Answers

marinelife's avatar

There is the cost of the campus and upkeep, the faculty’s salaries, attracting top-notch faculty, research endeavors, maintaining the libraries and computer systems and equipment.

josie's avatar

To begin with, it is only expensive if you are not sure it is worth it.
But that is another discussion
See @marinelife

CMaz's avatar

It cost plenty, to keep up with such magnanimous standards.

The statues, well cut lawns and bragging rights. It cost money to look cool.

The_Idler's avatar

Some nations have had their societies structured based upon the principle that everything should exist to make money.

The implication of this is that anything that doesn’t make money (and consequentially contribute to the maintenance and expansion of the power structures of financialism) doesn’t succeed.

This is an utterly amoral, anti-intellectual and often inefficient/counter-productive method of locomotion for humanity’s destiny, but this is the world we live in.

This is why everything is run like a business nowadays. This came to be over many decades, but if you want some good faces to pin to your dartboard, try Thatcher and I think Reagan was the American equivalent…

The sad thing is that we went so far forward, and now we’re going backwards…

GeorgeGee's avatar

If it’s just education you want, here are some free alternatives you can pursue from your own computer:
But if you want a building to be provided, with an instructor for you, you must pay for that. Who else do you think should pay? Why should anyone provide a building and instructor for free for you? Would you like heating, cooling and lights in that building? That costs extra. Oh, and if you want a cafeteria to eat in, a pool to swim in, a tennis court, a dormitory to sleep in, and a library filled with good and relevant books and other materials, you’ll have to pay for that too. Did you want a placement office too, to help you with finding a job when you graduate? That will cost you as well. A computer lab to work in? Ditto.

lilikoi's avatar

Because people are willing to pay it.

interweb's avatar

Thumbs up to @marinelife
Generally we associate higher education with higher profit/income; we must therefore pay for our education to achieve that status. The more effort you input at the beginning the easier it’ll be for you in the future.

josie's avatar

If I am a potato farmer, I must harvest more potatos than I plant. If I plant one, then I must harvest one to plant again, one more to eat, and AT LEAST one more to trade in case I have any needs beyond eating potatoes. Plus, I need one or more in reserve in case something goes wrong. If I do not do that, I will eventually starve. The exact same principle is true when creating, or harvesting any goods or services, and money is the way that the value of these things become portable. In a social context, if we do not produce more than we start with, somebody is eventually going to starve. Are you volunteering?

wundayatta's avatar

There is a theory that institutions of higher education have an incentive to raise prices because the higher the price, the larger the applicant pool. People perceive the expensive colleges to be more prestigious, so higher pricing actually is better for some institutions.

This does not explain why some colleges are now giving anyone who can get in a free ride. These institutions are doing this so that cost will not be a barrier (and they can afford it). I don’t know how many more poor people are getting the education they provide as a result.

Anyway, the high prices of an undergraduate education don’t make sense because they really don’t make sense. They do not work the way normal markets work. Go to Princeton. It’s free…. if you get in.

The_Idler's avatar

@josie Potatoes should be used to feed people, schools should be used to educate people, fire depts should be used to save people, buses should be used to transport people, etc.

Money is a good way of facilitating this, and has been used for these purposes basically for ever.

However, now there has been a reversal of roles, where the potato and the schools and the fire depts and the buses are facilitating the making of money.

So rather than money serving us, via the public institutions, we are now serving the money.

Schools and fire depts and buses should exist to provide a service, not to make a profit.
Why does everything need to make a profit?
The conception that this implies “everybody gotta work for free then, huh?” is idiotic.

Nobody ever did these things for free, but we did once as a society organise them so that people were paid to provide these services (yeah, that’s right, no volunteers, amazing, right?), without the public’s money ever being wasted on filling the pockets of corporate fat cats.

These things are collectively organised and funded by the public, because they are important and beneficial to society as a whole. Are you saying that, if education and transport and emergency services and utilities were provided, at-cost, nationally, we’d all starve? Do you have any examples of this? Because I have a lot of examples where nobody starved and everyone generally agreed that it was pretty fucking good. See: Janka

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

Schools are faced with ever-increasing expenses and, in the case of state schools, ever-decreasing funding from the government. Think about it. Schools need to provide good food, competent teachers, good staff, well-maintained buildings and dorms, up-to-date technology, adequate health and security services… the list goes on. That’s a lot of money to spend, and if they’re not getting it from the state, who’s going to pay? You demand a school gym and wireless internet and good teachers… well, you have to pay for them. In some cases, like private schools and ivy leagues, there are more factors: they have to make up for lack of government funding, AND you’re paying for the school’s reputation.

Still, there are plenty of ways to get a good education without paying $50,000 in tuition per year. Go to a state school: often, they are just as good (if not better) than private schools. Apply for scholarships: there are thousands of them out there! Get work study and/or a part-time job: lots of people do that and get along just fine. Yes, it’s expensive, but you will be much better off with a college education than without one. Do you ever hear people who, at 40, say things like, “Oh, I’m so glad I never went to college! That would have ruined my life.” Not really.

mattbrowne's avatar

Because the US does not believe in taxpayer sponsorship of higher education.

josie's avatar

@mattbrowne So are you saying that if somebody else pays for it, it won’t be expensive anymore?

The_Idler's avatar

@josie No, he’s saying that tuition fees are expensive, because the US does not believe in taxpayer sponsorship of higher education, probably because the fees are expensive and somebody else doesn’t want to pay.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, I meant it won’t be as expensive to the students. Overall it’s an investment into a country’s future.

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