The Issue of High University Tuition Prices and Student Debts

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Updated: Nov 22, 2022
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In How to Raise a University’s Profile: Pricing and Packaging by Kevin Carey, we get a glimpse into the ascent- or descent depending on your point of view- of American Universities. Carey interviewed many students in one of these institutions, George Washington University. Some thought their future and aspirations end up just fine, while others were fretting over weak job markets. But most of the students had one thing in common: massive debt due to ridiculous tuition prices.

Twenty-five years ago, George Washington was a small, affordable, commuter school with aspirations to become an elite institution. They hired as president the man who made the university what it is today, Stephen Joel Trachtenberg. Trachtenberg was educated in Harvard, Yale, and Columbia, three of the top universities in America. He wanted to make his college as fancy and popular as the Ivy League schools. He surmised that the smart Student body wasn’t the biggest pull that made people apply in droves for schools like Harvard; it was the money and fancy stuff money can buy. Since he had no sizable endowment to work with, he turned to hiking tuition, and for a time George Washington was the nation’s most expensive school. Average SAT score’s rose, and the number of applicants rose as well. Raising the tuition price actually changed people’s perspective of the University. This brought in wealthy families who didn’t have connections to get their children into Ivies, and in turn George Washington built up luxurious facilities through their big donations. But the education hasn’t really improved, only the amount of degrees offered and the quality of the campus. And when this process happens in almost every university in the country, we are faced with the problem we have today: all the good universities trying to be the great ones, by charging the price of a great university. So all the good-but-not- great students have to pay the same price for a lesser education, and take on massive debts for no reason.

It seems to me that all these colleges are trying to live their American dream. They are all trying to rise to the top, but if everyone improves their campus to attract smarter kids, then no one really improves. The victims are the high school seniors who want merely a good education, and now have to pay a million times the price for it. Trachtenberg, of all people, gets an enlightening view, because he experienced an amazing education in three great universities, but now watches as his institution basically scams people of the same money for a lesser education with nice amenities.

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The Issue of High University Tuition Prices and Student Debts. (2022, Nov 22). Retrieved from