Why Are Colleges Getting So Expensive?

Students are paying more every year. But different schools have different reasons for their rising costs.

People like to ask why "college" is getting so expensive, but they need a better question. There are almost 7,000 accredited colleges and universities in the U.S., from public community colleges, to public research universities, to Ivy League bastions. Even beginning to say, "here's what college costs" is like saying "here's what food tastes like.” It's a big, useless generalization.

Different schools are getting expensive for different reasons. Since we only have three minutes in this video, we try to make it as easy as possible. The most important reason that public schools are raising tuition is that their states are cutting education spending. The most important reason that tony private schools are raising tuition, however, isn't state budgets shrinking, but rather the schools' budgets swelling, as they spend more on research and campus amenities to attract the world's best and brightest.

To learn more, watch the clip.

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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