Sunday, March 3, 1996

Why college costs so much

From the series Creating the Class of 2000

The economics of college is different from the ordinary economy.  The coin of universities is prestige.  Students and parents want to be graduated with the most prestigious degree they can get, believing that's the key to unlocking the doors to success. How do you gauge prestige? By how selective the school is -- and how expensive. Thus there's very little incentive to keep tuition prices low, but very powerful incentives for keeping them high. And plenty of customers out there, ready to pay the prices.

I tried to bring the phenomenon to life in this look at college admissions at one of the country's top-ranked schools.

(please click on images to enlarge)