Is higher tuition what the public wants?

If you are wondering why college tuition keeps rising, let me tell you the reason: College presidents think that’s what you want, writes Daniel de Vise, columnist for the Washington Post. I am exaggerating, but not by much. Choosing a college isn’t, in the end, so different from buying an outfit at the mall. The customer wants a good deal. Nothing says “good deal” like a discount. Colleges keep raising tuition so that they can offer ever-deeper discounts to prospective students. Offering the customer a 40 percent discount on an impossibly high list price accomplishes two things. It tells the customer the product has considerable worth and that it is being offered at great value.

“Perceived value is important,” said Miriam Pride, president of Blackburn College in Illinois, speaking Friday at a meeting of the Council of Independent Colleges in Marco Island, Fla. “The dollar amount of our discounts is very valuable to our students and their families.”

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