$50,000 a year college tuition a new form of hidden income tax


The University of Southern California is the first of many schools that are asking for more than $50,000 a year in college tuition.

Note that I said asking. This is a stealth form of income tax, because this rate will only apply to families of high income earners. In essence, high income families will subsidize low income families. The "price" of $50,000 is simply a way of transferring income. It's as if two people go into a grocery store and see an orange. One man with more money has to pay $5 for the orange so another man with less money can be subsidized and pay 50 cents for the orange. That is what the USC and other colleges are doing. But they are careful not to call it a progressive income tax, but it is a service with different prices for different people.

With a price tag of $51,442 for tuition and an additional $841 in fees, USC is sure to be in the running for the unofficial title of most expensive place in the country to get a college degree. According to U.S. News & World Report, Vassar College in New York won that honor for the current school year by charging $51,300 in tuition and fees. Even Harvard, that paragon of academic excellence, charges undergraduates a mere $45,278 in tuition and fees.

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"We're competing with the Stanfords and the Ivy League schools of the world, and when you're competing for best faculty in the world, that's expensive," said USC Provost Michael Quick. "As we build infrastructure, that's expensive."

How about building less "infrastructure", and charging more affordable rates?

Factoring in the cost of books and living expenses, the total cost for one Trojan year will be almost $70,000, USC officials estimate.

Isn't Trojan a brand of condom?
Luckily, that eye-popping amount "doesn't necessarily tell you much about actual affordability," said Robert Shireman, a senior fellow with the Century Foundation think tank. "The sticker price is only relevant to people with very high incomes."

How luckily!

Indeed, almost two-thirds of USC undergraduates receive financial aid, according to the university.

Quick said school administrators try to keep increases as low as possible while also funding needed programming and capital projects, including renovations to the university's science labs and increasing mental health counseling services and job placement services.

How many lies can you spot in the above sentence? They try to increase tuition as fast as possible, there are no essential need for "capital" projects, they aren't building an airport. And if people are mentally ill they should go to a psychiatrist, not college. They're running a university, not a mental hospital.

"Our students and parents are expecting value in their education, and the bottom line is it sometimes takes money to provide that value," Quick said.

Sometimes? I think this is one of those times that it doesn't, especially since much teaching is done by poorly paid graduate students and part time lecturers.

Quick said he and other administrators monitor data on student debt to make sure that cost increases don't go too far and try to find donors for many of the projects. .

"We're always mindful of the cost to students," he said.

For the current academic year, USC is the 12th most costly private university in the nation, according to U.S. News.

See how mindful they are?

The real problem is that universities raise costs dramatically confident that the government will pay whatever tuition they set with increased student loans and rich students will subsidize the rest. If an effort was meant to focus on basic costs--classrooms and teachers--and not building monuments as fast as the pharaohs, costs could be cut dramatically. But colleges have no incentive to do so, and the writer of this article had no curiousity about the subject.



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