Colleges Second-Guess The 'Raise Prices Forever' Plan

America's finest colleges and America's finest corporations aren't all that different: they're both sitting on huge piles of cash, complaining about the economy, and soaking you, the consumer, for all you're worth. Simultaneously!

Sure, colleges are famous for being populated by bleeding heart liberal humanists and corporations are famous for being populated by cold-blooded heartless Randian automatons. But college educated automatons, don't forget! Both institutions are very sensitive to the well being of themselves. Perhaps that's why colleges are now engaged in the same hand-wringing over their business model that permanently afflicts public companies. Inside Higher Ed reports that this whole "permanent recession and joblessness combined with the student loan bubble" thing could be bad for a business based on handing out student loans to teenagers to pay endlessly rising tuitions at top tier universities so that they can graduate and be unemployed. Is there a flaw to be found?

"The model – if it's not breaking – it's showing signs of age," said Richard Kneedler, former president of Franklin and Marshall College, a liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, and a consultant with Ann Duffield and Colleagues, a presidential consulting firm. "The price has been pushed up at a number of the top institutions. It's gotten to the point where people are asking a lot of questions about it, and this high price is creating a sense in part of the public that higher education is becoming a commercial exercise."

The tuition at Franklin and Marshall College is $42,510, FYI. This, however, should not cause alarm for the small sliver of preposterously priced liberal arts schools in America where all the rich/ lucky/ foolishly over-aspirational students go. The top 3% of future wage earners will still need their fancy credentials, in order to grant them admission to the remaining jobs, in which they will control all the money. The middle class of colleges is dead anyhow! Just stop letting in kids who can't afford the hefty prices, problem solved. The role of higher education in contributing to America's great class divide can continue unabated, as can higher education's tradition of denying that it does any such thing.

[Inside Higher Ed, photo via Matthias Rosenkranz/Flickr]