Why college tuitions are rising: A contrarian view

The “Path to Prosperity” report issued by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan calls for limiting the growth of financial aid to college students, says Gary C. Fethke, professor and former dean of the Henry B. Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa, and Andrew J. Policano, dean of the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine. The report claims that “increases in Pell Grants appear to be matched nearly one for one by increases in tuition at private universities.” The assertion that increased aid increases tuition, the “Bennett Hypothesis,” has been endorsed by President Obama (in a speech made last January at the University of Michigan). Also, Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, argues that government loans and subsidies are not cost-effective for taxpayers because “universities and college just raise their tuition.” The Ryan Report refers to a 2007 paper in the Economics of Education Review, in which the authors (Larry Singell and Joe Stone) in fact conclude: “Based on a panel of 71 universities from 1983 to 1996, we find little evidence of the Bennett hypothesis among either public or lower-ranked private universities.” Their study does find an effect on the tuition of non-targeted students at top-ranked private universities…

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News sites rethink anonymous online comments

Web sites that once embraced anonymous comments are revising their policies to hold users more accountable for what they say online, reports the New York Times. The Washington Post plans to revise its comments policy over the next several months, and one of the ideas under consideration is to give greater prominence to commenters using real names. The Times, the Post, and many other papers have moved toward requiring people to register before posting comments, providing some information about themselves that is not shown on screen. The Huffington Post soon will announce changes, including ranking commenters based in part on how well other readers know and trust their writing. “Anonymity is … an accepted part of the internet, but there’s no question that people hide behind anonymity to make vile or controversial comments,” said Arianna Huffington, a founder of The Huffington Post. “I feel that this is almost like an education process. As the rules of the road are changing and the internet is growing up, the trend is away from anonymity.” The Plain Dealer of Cleveland recently discovered that anonymous comments on its site, disparaging a local lawyer, were made using the eMail address of a judge who was presiding over some of that lawyer’s cases—and the newspaper exposed the connection in an article. The judge denied sending the messages, and last week she sued the Plain Dealer, claiming it had violated her privacy. The paper acknowledged that it had broken with the tradition of allowing commenters to hide behind screen names, but it served notice that anonymity was a habit, not a guarantee…

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