- - Thursday, March 12, 2020

In “How to solve the skyrocketing costs of college tuition” (Web, March 8) Peter Morici outlines colleges’ rising tuition costs, the various factors contributing to the increases and some solutions aimed at reducing or at least stabilizing tuition increases. He also presents a clear case of the impact that student debt is having on huge numbers of students, both those graduating and those who dropped out along the way. As Mr. Morici writes, student debt is a dose of reality that makes it difficult to pursue everyday things such as buying homes, getting married and having families.

Mr. Morici omits one other factor, however, perhaps the most important one: the affordability factor. The vast majority of students and parents make college-selection decisions voluntarily based on whatever criteria they believe to be important. The criteria could include institutional status, faculty reputation, availability and quality of desired program, job prospects and more. Such decisions are also made with full knowledge of what the tuition, other costs and perceived benefits would be. What seems to be missing from the list is affordability; can we afford it without saddling our son or daughter with crippling debt?

Students and especially parents know what they can afford based on available college savings, likelihood of scholarships, grants and student loans. What happened to a parent saying to their child, “No, you may not go there because we cannot afford it”? When enough parents do this, colleges may see theie enrollments drop, which just might lead to lowered costs.

If, however, after weighing all the relevant criteria and related costs, the parents and students alike know the college of choice will result in tens of thousands of dollars (or more) of debt, then they ought to shut up and live with the consequences of their decisions. That means paying off the debt, regardless of how long it takes, and not whining about it.


Haymarket, Va.

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