5-16-14 – Why Is College So Expensive? Big Government

by Kyle O’Grady

For many Vermont high school seniors, this time of year yields some very important decisions concerning the future. Right now many students and their parents are scrambling to do last minute research and campus tours, all to make the final decision on where they will be attending college this fall. As someone who recently finished the college decision process, I can say from experience that a magnitude of factors must be considered when making a decision. Location, difficulty, campus satisfaction, majoring options, among many other things all play into the decision that the student must make when choosing a college. But it is becoming clearer and clearer to Vermont and American students alike what can make or break a college decision; the cost of tuition.

Of course, the financial aspect of college is different for every student. I come from a financial situation that is allowing me to attend college without virtually any student loan assistance, but I represent the minority compared to most other prospective students. In other words; most other students aren’t as lucky as I am. For instance, I have a close friend who will be experiencing the realities of student loans and student loan debt, very shortly. He will be taking out $21,500 in student loans his first year, $27,000 his second year, $33,000 his third year, and $39,000 his final year. That amounts to well over $100,000 in loans, and that number doesn’t even include the 6.9% interest rate on the money he is borrowing. It will likely take him much of his life to pay off his student debt; a harsh reality that he, along with countless other college graduates will have to live with. But why will my friend have to deal with the burden of debt to attend college? Why is college so expensive in the first place? The answer is simple; college is expensive because of government.

Years ago, college was a fraction of its current cost. Most students could work a part-time job during the summer, and make enough money to pay their college tuition the following school year. But then government became involved, and naturally, prices skyrocketed, and continue to increase every year. This highlights the nature of government; whatever it becomes involved with, it demeans.

Student loans are the pathway that government follows to demean college. On the surface, student loans sound like a positive idea. I mean, who would oppose helping prospective college students pay their tuition? But when the issue is evaluated closely, it becomes apparent that government guaranteed student loans do nothing but drive up the cost of college.

Student loans are the only reason that college kids can afford to pay the ridiculously high prices colleges and universities charge. Should the government reject the notion of handing out these loans, many students would not be able to continue to pay such high prices for tuition. So would the universities and colleges continue to charge such high rates? Would they consent to empty classrooms, and continue to pay their professors and administrators enormous salaries? Of course not; they wouldn’t be able to afford it. This would force them to stop spending unnecessary amounts of money, and significantly lower their price of attendance. The end result; students could go to college for less, and graduate with little or no debt. The only institutions that benefit from government guaranteed student loans are the colleges receiving the money, and the government itself. The students, who should be the focus of universities and colleges, get screwed.

Student loans are just another example of big government injecting itself into a field in which it should have no influence. It highlights the corruption, and injustice that results when government becomes involved where it should not be. It is easy to argue that anyone who advocates abolishing student loans doesn’t care about the student, but this charge is false. Reality suggests that it is just the opposite; anyone who supports government guaranteed student loans, supports skyrocketing tuition prices, and massive amounts of student debt that may take a lifetime to repay. Until college becomes free from the tight grasp of government’s hand, until the free-market is once again allowed to dominate the price of college, students, the backbone and future of the country, will continue to be in jeopardy.

Kyle O’Grady is a high school senior at Rice Memorial High School in Burlington.  He will be attending Clarkson University in the fall.

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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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