How NOT to reduce the cost of college

Senator Joe Conti unveiled a proposal to expand the state sales tax and dedicate the revenue to Penn State University. Why? Penn State’s tuition is too high. This proposal is based on flawed premises:

1) There is no guarantee that Penn State will lower tuition just because they are getting more in taxpayer subsidy. In fact recent history would indicate that public universities threaten to raise tuition to get more state subsidy, the raise tuition anyway and demand more state and federal aid because of the rising cost of tuition.

2) Sen. Conti says that “Tuition is high at Penn State because the state‚Äôs current appropriation only covers 23% of their costs” – which is absolutely false. Tuition is high at Penn State because Penn State chooses to charge high tuition, which is often paid for by federal and state financial aid. In contrast, Grove City College, here in PA, receives no state funding, opts out of federal financial aid programs, and yet charges a fraction of the tuition of Penn State.

3) We should not we reward institutions that charge/spend too much by giving them more taxpayer subsidy.

For those who believe that more tax funding for universities has helped to lower costs (and result in economic development) pick up a copy of Richard Vedder’s Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much.