The College Debt Bubble: Is It Ready to Explode?

Hans Bader

Is the College Debt Bubble Ready to Explode?,” asks Laura Rowley at Yahoo! Finance. College tuition has skyrocketed much more than housing did during the housing bubble, in percentage terms. One hundred colleges charge $50,000 or more a year, compared to just 5 in 2008-09. College tuition has surged along with federal financial-aid spending, which effectively rewards colleges for increasing tuition. College financial-aid policies punish thrifty families, so that “parents who scrimp and save to come up with the tuition are in effect subsidizing the others.”
“University administrators are the equivalent of subprime mortgage brokers,” notes Facebook investor Peter Thiel, “selling you a story that you should go into debt massively, that it’s not a consumption decision, it’s an investment decision. Actually, no, it’s a bad consumption decision. Most colleges are four-year parties,” he says, an assessment shared by prominent law professor Glenn Reynolds.
My wife is French. She spent twice as much time in class at her second-tier French university as I did in my flagship American university (the University of Virginia), and more time studying, too (even though I was studious by American standards, and as a result, later went on to attend Harvard Law School). France spends less per student on higher education than we do, to produce a more literate and knowledgeable citizenry.