Earlier this week, an anonymous student at Boston College wrote a letter  to interim Dean George Brown of Boston COllege Law School to request his two and a half years of tuition back. He was facing financial difficulty (pregnant wife, weak job prospects, and an even weaker desire to be saddled with massive student loans) and so offered up a deal – return his two and a half years of tuition and he’ll leave without his degree. In fairness, the school does get to bolster its image because it wouldn’t have to report his unemployment upon graduation to magazine rankings. 🙂
I’d like to propose a solution to this problem: I am willing to leave law school, without a degree, at the end of this semester. In return, I would like a full refund of the tuition I’ve paid over the last two and a half years.
It’s hard to say how serious the letter is (it’s probably not) but it’s a clever idea, even if it’s just to get some publicity. Sadly, it’ll never happen since you can’t “unlearn” two and a half years of study (nor can you recover the lost tuition, since the student did take up a spot in the classroom that would’ve gone to someone who could have finished) but it does stimulate the mind a little.
One of the big things I realized, with the help of articles I read online, is that part of the reason why higher education is so expensive has to do with the subsidies in the form of interest free loans and other grants. Regardless of how much tuition actually costs, subsidies increase the cost by spreading it out across multiple payers. If I go to school and the non-subsidized tuition should be $10,000 (which is an amount I’d be willing to pay, since I may not get grants or loans) and I can get $5,000 in grants, then I’m getting $10,000 of value for $5,000. Taxpayers subsidize the $5,000. Eventually schools wise up, increase tuition to $15,000 so that they can get $10,000 from the student (who is still paying the “right” amount) and $5,000 from taxpayers. It’s clearly not as simple as this but subsidies don’t help the problem, they make it worse.