Fortunately, Dan Currell has entertainingly dispelled the manufactured mists that engulf “The Truth About College Costs,” which is the title of his astringent essay in the summer issue of National Affairs. Formerly a senior adviser at the Education Department, Currell has glad tidings: “Students are paying less for college than they did 15 years ago.”
This is, as Currell knows, “deeply contrary to conventional wisdom,” but the reason for it is hiding in plain sight: “In the late 1980s and early 1990s, colleges discovered that the appearance of high tuition was good for marketing.” Since then, they have toiled to keep “nearly invisible” the fact that 96 percent of students pay about $15,000 a year for tuition. Add $10,000 for room and board, and the $25,000 total is a far cry from the eye-watering numbers that colleges are actually pleased to have bandied about.
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