Dan Currell’s article titled “The Truth about College Costs” delves into the complex world of college tuition pricing in the U.S. He highlights that while published tuition fees have consistently risen over the decades, the actual fees that most students pay have remained relatively stable. The disparity arises from a system where colleges list high tuition fees and then offer significant “institutional scholarships” or discounts, creating an illusion of high costs when the reality is different.
- The practice of listing high tuition and then offering significant discounts, known as the “high-sticker, high-discount” method, became popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s as it was perceived to be good for marketing and boosted applications.
- This pricing strategy has caused confusion and anxiety among families as the published tuition costs are often much higher than the actual amounts students end up paying.
- Despite the rise in the published tuition fees over the years, the amount students actually pay, after discounts, has remained relatively stable or even decreased in real-dollar terms.
- Many private colleges discount their published tuition by 60% or more for the majority of their students, making the actual costs much lower than advertised.
- To address this misleading system, Currell suggests that officials need to enforce existing consumer-protection rules rather than introducing new legislation.