Last month, the College Board released a study which found, not surprisingly, that the average cost of tuition and fees at four-year public colleges rose 6.5 percent from last year. During this same time period, inflation decreased by 2.1 percent. So, why such a profound tuition increase? After all, our country is in a recession.

Many blame state governments for not appropriating universities enough money. Maybe this has had some small impact on tuition increases in states other than Texas, maybe, but those who use this as an excuse overestimate its impact and seem to have ulterior motives in mind. Hint: universities themselves use this excuse at every available opportunity.

Additionally, this excuse definitely doesn’t explain the tuition increases here in Texas. Our state government increased appropriations to higher education by 15 percent this legislative session. Tuition has still increased at our state’s public universities.

The real reason tuition has increased in Texas and nationwide is out-of-control university spending and failed government policies like student loan and grant programs.

The College Board study is quick to point out that although tuition has increased, student loans more than make up for the increased tuition costs. Or as the Cato Institute’sNeal McCluskey puts it, “colleges were able to charge students more without greatly affecting access by pawning much of the new charges off on donors and taxpayers.”

The College Board study is just more evidence that student aid drives tuition increases because it means third parties are paying for the costs, much like the reason health insurance costs are so high. No one cares how much a product costs when they aren’t footing the bill.

Rather than instituting more of the same, policymakers should make real higher education reforms that address the core of the problem – too much government interference and zero university accountability.

– Elizabeth Young