A new theory of rising college costs

By: | December 23, 2021

Over the past several decades, the cost of higher education has increased dramatically, more than doubling since 1985 at both public and private universities. The search for an explanation is urgent.

While no complex phenomenon has a single cause, one overlooked factor here is the parallel societies we’ve come to expect colleges and universities to create. These institutions now offer a suite of duplicative services that are either more properly the domain of the state or are activities once entrusted to students and faculty themselves. Driven by what Ryan Boyd calls “a growing technocratic-neoliberal emphasis on data, measurement, and surveillance,” college is ever more expensive because we expect ever more of it.

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