New Study Calls for More Spending to Provide Nothing

Higher education costs are increasing, but why?

A study from the Michigan League for Public Policy says that Michigan should spend more taxpayer dollars on state universities. This would do little to lower tuition, though, until the schools stop their spending spree.

For universities, tuition and taxpayer support are revenues that pay for their expenses. The League states that cuts in taxpayer funding of universities are the culprit for tuition increases. The biggest driver for tuition increases, however, is not stagnant taxpayer support but university expenses.

Say that legislators wanted to use taxpayer money to keep tuition at what it was a decade ago. In that case, the state would need to spend another $1.5 billion, doubling what taxpayers currently spend.

Prospective students have largely ignored university sticker prices when making their selections. Easy credit (often subsidized) means that unaffordability does not limit their decisions. So universities tend to compete on things other than price. College support staff, in particular, is an ever-increasing expense.

The League makes no attempt to analyze the reasons for the increased expenses that are driving tuition up.

One day, students will be more cost conscious about the bill for higher education. That, rather than doubling taxpayer support, will provide a stronger incentive for universities to keep tuition low.