Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cost v Price, in National Rankings

The US Government came out this week with a new database for families, businesses and communities who deal with (or are searching for) institutions of higher education. The website allows visitors to see a list of the most expensive institutions in six categories. For comparison, visitors may also elect to view the most expensive cost of operation across the country. Alternatively, you can also seek the least expensive in both categories.

The information is overwhelming at first, but it's fun to play with. I found my safety school ranked really high in the tuition list and I'm pleased I chose to go elsewhere. I recognize the most expensive schools as the places where people go to polish themselves off before getting into a pre-arranged job in the family business. You know, Bates, Middlebury, Trinity, etc.

Meanwhile, the biggest for-profit offenders seem to be the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute, whose various state campuses occupy something like 10 of the top slots.

Go ahead, generate some reports. Isn't that fun?

Now: Who will this information benefit? Universities? Families hoping to send their kids to a good school within budget? For-profit online schools? Future parents footing the bill?


  1. How about the government employees whose job it is to keep the list up to date?

  2. I have a different take on the expensive schools. They are all schools that are actually just a little lower on the prestige scale vis-a-vis the big dogs and they lack the endowment needed to pay for big dog amenities, which forces them to jack up to tuition.

    The first need-blind school (a good measure of endowment if not prestige) is way down at 24th on the gross tuition list. And because they are need-blind they rank near the bottom on the net-cost list. So if you take away the need-blind schools from the high tuition list, you are left with a bunch of mid-level SLACS and Universities that try to offer expensive bennies to attract the suckers--in other words, safety schools.

    The exceptions are Columbia, which has a big endowment, but it is mostly in real estate which makes it useless in terms of paying for shit, and a couple of similar places.

    The information could be of use to families, but they need to have more contextual information to interpret it effectively.

    @Ben: I'm pretty sure that the two people keeping the list up-to-date are unpaid interns, so it definitely isn't benefitting them.

  3. It will benefit the angry turds of the Right, who can use the info on placards at rallies.

    "College X costs 30,000 a year... AND LETS IN ARABS!!!"

  4. I *hope* that some families with very bright offspring, but no family history with some of the highly-prestigious need-blind schools, will realize that it might actually cost about the same, or less, for their kid to go to one of those schools as to their state's flagship U. I've noticed that parents with such family connections (e.g. my siblings) are very aware of that fact (and that it plays a noticeable role in their pushing their kids to get into those schools, since they realize the education isn't really better, just the name), while plenty of families with equally-eligible students just assume such schools are way out of their price range.

  5. @Cassandra: That's certainly a big part of the contextual information I was talking about. For a smart kid in the top of her high school class who can get into a need blind school, it is an absolutely crackerjack deal. But the families/individuals who can most benefit from it are the ones who have no idea what need-blind is or what it could mean for them. So the system continues, to paraphrase the immortal words of Walter Benn Michaels, to decide what colour the rich kids are going to be. A couple of years back I was trying to help a very bright kid whose parents are undocumented navigate the admissions process. I could have gotten her into a top need-blind SLAC with all that would have entailed for her future, but her parents were so afraid of la migra that she wound up going to a crummyish state school where they don't ask too many questions. It was seriously tragic.

    Also, families that aren't upper-middle class, or otherwise plugged into the whole higher-ed game, don't really understand what the names on those lists mean. It is truly sad.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.