(From RealClearPolicy):

By Thomas K. Lindsay

For too long, many in the media have derided higher-ed reformers, attempting to marginalize them as anti-intellectuals intent on transmogrifying America’s world-class universities into diploma mills. But now, it appears, the jig is up.From across the ideological aisle comes the MSNBC article “Forget student loan debt — rising tuition costs may be the real problem.” The piece rightly dismisses Congress’s focus on student-loan rates: “The larger problem isn’t the loans. It’s the cost of the education itself. 

Amen to that, say reformers, who for years have been attempting to steer the debate over student-loan debt in a more reasonable direction. For example, in 2011, economist Richard Vedder warned , “In 2009, spending by Americans for post-secondary education totaled $461 billion, an amount 42 percent greater than in 2000, after accounting for inflation. This $461 billion is the equivalent of 3.3 percent of total U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and an amount greater than the total GDP of countries such as Sweden, Norway and Portugal.”

To this the MSNBC piece adds another disquieting data point: “From 1950 to 1970, sending a member of your family to a public university cost you four percent of your family’s income; in 2010, that number nearly tripled to eleven percent.” Another study argues that tuition over the last two decades has increased four times faster than inflation, outstripping even the increases in health-care spending. It finds that, in 2010-11, in-state tuition and fees at public four-year schools averaged $7,605, and total academic expenses for one year averaged $16,140. At private four-year schools that average was $36,993.Families can now expect to pay about $65,000 for a public four-year degree and nearly $150,000 for a private four-year degree. In comparison , the median and mean prices of new homes sold in the United States as of October 2011 were $212,300 and $242,300 respectively. READ MORE HERE