In this public system, the high cost of college has as much to do with politics as economics.
There are also significant noneconomic benefits. And is it worth it?
For this reason, students may want to estimate what six years of tuition and fees will cost them at schools with low four-year graduation rates, and be mindful of planning their schedules and making the most of AP and other college credits.
Like many categories of consumer products, though, colleges and universities do not constitute a single, cohesive market.
Typically, fierce market competition leads to lower prices, but among elite schools, the opposite occurs, paradoxically.
Meanwhile, more and more of the risk gets shifted from government onto families, in both sectors.
Over the past decade, for example, Purdue University has reduced its in-state student population by 4, while adding 5, out-of-state and foreign students, who pay triple the tuition. The farther away you get from the United States, the more baffling it looks.