This Is Why College Costs So Much

When I graduated from college, I owed around $2500. I went to an out-of-state school where the tuition was higher. I dropped out of college three times before finally finishing a year late. I don’t recall anyone complaining about huge college debt.

In order to help pay for college, I worked two jobs. When I ran out of money, I left school in order to earn more money to help with expenses.

So what’s happened since 1973, the year I graduated from Western Michigan University? To hear liberals tell it, not enough money has been spent on helping kids with college expenses. You can almost guarantee that if there is a problem, liberals will claim that more money needs to be thrown at it.

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I was shocked to read that an article in the New York Times actually criticized the claim being made by liberals that reduced government spending has led to an increase in college costs:

“In fact, public investment in higher education in America is vastly larger today, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was during the supposed golden age of public funding in the 1960s. Such spending has increased at a much faster rate than government spending in general. For example, the military’s budget is about 1.8 times higher today than it was in 1960, while legislative appropriations to higher education are more than 10 times higher.” (H/T: New York Times)

Ty Cobb_02One of the basic laws of economics is that when there is more money to spend on a fixed number of goods that are in demand, the price of those goods goes up. Similarly, when there is a scarcity of goods but a great deal of demand, the price also goes up. For example, recently seven ultra-rare Ty Cobb 1911-era baseball cards were found in a brown paper bag. “Before the recent find, there were only about 15 known to still exist,” (H/T: Japan Times) significantly fewer in number than the prized Honus Wagner card.  Because of the great demand for the cards, and the fact that they are super rare, the price of the cards are setting records.

One of the Honus Wagner cards from the same T206 set that the Ty Cobb card is from sold for $2.8 million.

Here’s the difference: None of the money used by collectors to purchase the cards has been taken from taxpayers. If these collectors somehow were able to use taxpayer confiscated money to help purchase the cards, the prices would go even higher.

When the government decided to take money from some Americans and give it to other Americans so their kids could afford to go to college, demand went up. This meant that costs went up. G. Gordon Liddy said it all with this: “A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, a debt he proposes to pay off with your money.”

The universities began to realize that with more money available to families, they could raise prices, hire more staff, and build more buildings. When costs rose, politicians screamed that something needed to be done, and, of course, the solution was to make more money available. This isn’t the solution; it’s the problem:

“In other words, far from being caused by funding cuts, the astonishing rise in college tuition correlates closely with a huge increase in public subsidies for higher education. If over the past three decades car prices had gone up as fast as tuition, the average new car would cost more than $80,000.


“As the baby boomers reached college age, state appropriations to higher education skyrocketed, increasing more than fourfold in today’s dollars, from $11.1 billion in 1960 to $48.2 billion in 1975. By 1980, state funding for higher education had increased a mind-boggling 390 percent in real terms over the previous 20 years. This tsunami of public money did not reduce tuition: quite the contrary.”

Like anything the government subsidizes with money taken from some people, we get more of it: poverty, babies born out of wedlock, substandard housing, welfare, and welfare recipients.

There’s a moral component to this issue. What right does a government have to take money from me so it can be given to someone else? Theft by congressional fiat or majority rule is still theft.

If the government stopped subsidizing education, the cost of a college education would go down. It’s simple economics.


Gary DeMar

Gary DeMar was raised in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and Reformed Theological Seminary (1979). He has served as researcher and writer at the Christian Worldview ministry American Vision since 1980 and President since 1984. Today he serves as Senior Fellow at American Vision where he lectures, researches, and writes on various worldview issues. Gary is the author of 30 books on a variety of topics – from "America’s Christian History" and "God and Government" to "Thinking Straight in a Crooked World" to "Last Days Madness." Gary has been interviewed by Time magazine, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, the BBC, and Sean Hannity. He has done numerous radio and television interviews, including the “Bible Answer Man,” hosted by Hank Hanegraaff and “Today’s Issues” with Tim Wildmon and Marvin Sanders. Newspaper interviews with Gary have appeared in the Washington Times, Toledo (Ohio) Blade, the Sacramento Bee, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Marietta Daily Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, The Orlando Sentinel, and the Chicago Tribune.

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