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Monday, January 23, 2012

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In Indiana, the state legislature wants to take tuition setting authority away from state colleges (who receive very little funding from the state) and give it to the state higher ed commission. Daniels also wants to cap the number of credit hours required for a degree, requiring special state approval for what he deems excessive credits. And the legislature wants to restrict the ability of the state's universities to expand their high speed fiber networks to ancillary institutions. Many rural legislators have been upset for a while that Johnny can't get into IU as admissions standards have tightened.

There's a movement, mostly on the political right, that has been talking about a "higher education bubble," mostly driven by government policies. A college degree is now an essential credential, with the more elite schools being worth a ton. We provide gov't guaranteed students loans to basically anyone who asks. And we've made student loan debt non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. This lets colleges more or less print money by jacking tuition sky high and loading massive debts onto their grads. This is the one Occupy complain that resonated with the right.

Clearly something has to give at some point. A lot of the tuition money has not gone into education, but rather into the construction of lavish facilities and programs to attract students. Dorm rooms today are a far cry from when I went to school, I can tell you that. And I'm not that old. One day students and parents are going to wake up and realize that the bill for what amounts to a four year luxury vacation is being paid for by them.

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