6 October 2013
Public Funding of American Academic Institutions A subject of popular discourse among American citizens currently is the importance of higher education, but an even more important question should be addressed about the concept of higher education: who actually attends these colleges, and who pays for them? In Andrew Delbanco’s fourth chapter, titled “Who Went? Who Goes? Who Pays?” from his book College: What It Was, Is And Should Be, he goes into great detail to answer these common questions. This is important to anyone thinking about or already attending college because it explains the problems one might face throughout the process of college, or when trying to gain admission. A specific topic in Delbanco’s chapter that should be emphasized is the decrease in state and federal funding towards public universities, and how this affects tuition rates. The data found to be introduced in this essay supports the claim that a decrease in public funding leads to an increase in tuition rates, but also points out an additional complication that the decrease in public funding does not absolutely bring about increase in tuition rates, and there might be another factor playing a role in this relationship. In chapter four, Delbanco discusses who goes to college, and who has to pay for it. The chapter begins by explaining how in the past discrimination against socioeconomic status, sex, and race afflicted many college campuses. Delbanco continues on to state that many of these discriminations have diminished among colleges and universities today for many reasons. Although the U.S. has made progress towards diversity among higher education, Delbanco wants to remind the reader that socioeconomic inequality has not completely faded from American educational institutions (Delbanco 113). He states, “low income students still face major challenges when trying to gain admission to universities and that the prime reason for this is the massive financial disinvestment state by state in higher education” (Delbanco 114). In this quotation, he asserts that the decline in public funding forces universities to focus mainly on enrolling processes and the idea of “selectivity” in admissions. Delbanco dives into the many questions that spring from examining the complexities of selective college admissions processes. He argues that while there are no simple answers to these questions, one thing that remains clear is that college admissions processes remain in favor of students that come from families with a high income, and that American citizens have less outrage about the present than the past because the different economic classes do not know much about each other (Delbanco 124).
An aspect of Delbanco’s chapter that should be further discussed is the reasoning he gives for the present inequality among socioeconomic classes in public universities. He asserts that this issue is a result of a decrease in public funding, ultimately resulting in an increase of tuition rates. “To make up for the decline in public money, tuition rates at public universities have been climbing even faster than at private institutions” (Delbanco 114). This quotation stresses that since public universities are not receiving as much money from the state and local government as they once did in the past, it forces the universities to rely mainly on student tuition as their source of income. The fundamental reason for less state and federal funding into public universities according to Delbanco is because of “California’s Proposition 13, which started a sequence of tax revolts and finally led to considerable financial disinvestment in higher education by public funding” (Delbanco 114).
When researching for support or contrary evidence for Delbanco’s argument, a data set was found by the “Delta Cost Project IPEDS Database” titled, In public institutions, cuts in state and local appropriations after the 2001…