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Study Up For 'Think': The Cost Of College

fleshmanpix / Flickr
Ivory Tower opens at the Magnolia Theater in Dallas on Friday.

College tuition has  has risen by 1,120 percent over the past few decades. As a result, the relationship between colleges and students has changed drastically. Filmmaker Andrew Rossi joins Think today at noon to discuss his latest documentary Ivory Tower.

Rossi, the film’s director, wrote an op-ed for the Boston Globe, where he investigates the student debt problem and questions the worth of a college education. For recent graduates, average student loans are now at $33,000 and state funding for public universities has declined by 40 percent since 1978. Despite legislative attempts to provide relief to students, Rossi’s call to action proposes something greater.

Rossi suggests that deeper problems in the higher education model must be addressed. He makes the point in another op-ed for Time that institutions now work similarly to businesses. Schools now employ an economic idea of competition amongst one another: expenses stay high because price becomes associated with prestige and high rankings.

As the consumers in this scenario, students paying full tuition not only compensate for the cost of school, but upgraded amenities, the opportunity for research, financial aid for other students, distinguished faculty, and “startup costs” for new professors as well.

But institutions themselves perceive $30,000 tuition -- and even the $60,000 sticker price per year -- as a discount already. Taking Duke University as an example, NPR’s Planet Money observed a similar finding: a new definition of college tuition. College administrators at the university viewed the value of higher education to be closer to $90,000 -- sometimes even more -- with all the school had to offer.

You can watch the trailer for Ivory Tower below.

Listen to ‘Think’  at noon and 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday, on KERA 90.1 FM or through online streaming.