But here's why the tuition is too damn high

Some sanity over the price of higher education from Jordan Weissmann, writing in The Atlantic. And some perspective on the previous post this morning.

How in the World Did College Costs Rise 15% in Only 2 Years?

First off, when it comes to the price of higher education, all statistics are local. One of the biggest factors influencing tuition is the amount of government support college systems receive, and budget cuts have varied wildly from state to state over the past few years. So perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that the most drastic price hikes have been concentrated in just a few places. Of the 100 schools which raised tuition most between the 2008-2009 and the 2010-2011 school years, 70 were located in five states -- Arizona, California, Georgia, Florida, and Washington. Meanwhile, seven of the top twelve were in Puerto Rico (yes, they are included in this survey). Should it concern most American parents that the University of Puerto Rico -- Aguadilla raised its sticker price by 53 percent, or a little less than $1,000 dollars?  Probably not.
In short a relative minority of schools skewed the average upwards. The government included 649 four-year public colleges in its report. Only 234 actually saw a 15 percent hike or more. The median increase was 11 percent. And many of the colleges that were responsible for the biggest percent jumps, such as the Cal State system, were schools bringing up their tuition from bargain basement prices.  
But 11 percent in two years. That's still sounds pretty high. Again, medical costs, which everyone knows are supposed to be spiraling madly out of control, increased about 7 percent in the time frame we're talking about. 
That brings us to the second big issue that should give parents solace. Tuition sticker prices are a terrible way to judge the actual cost of college, especially from a consumer's perspective. Net prices, which include government and institutional grants, say much more about how college costs are changing. Unfortunately, the government's net-price data is a year behind. But at four-year public schools, the average net price edged up just 4.6 percent between 2007-2008 and 2009-2010. Private college tuition increase just 6.4 percent on average. That's not completely outrageous when you consider the various financial pressures these institutions have been facing. The Higher Education Price Index, which essentially tracks the costs of running a college, rose about 3 percent over the time period we're looking at. Overall state funding fell about 3 percent, and the number of students enrolled rose.

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