Perception and price inflation may drive university costs

Published: Monday, Oct. 1 2012 2:04 p.m. MDT

Students link arms to create a barricade between protesters and campus police guarding the UCLA campus Covel Commons Building during a vote in 2009 by University of California regents on raising student fees.

Damian Dovarganes, AP

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Stephen Trachtenberg, the former president of George Washington University, increased tuition from $25,000 to $51,000 during his tenure, according to The Atlantic.

Trachtenberg proudly claims responsibility for a business model that caused a dramatic increase in college tuition prices nationwide.

Raising tuition prices not only increased university revenue but sparked a perception war with universities nationwide.

"People equate price with the value of their education," Trachtenberg told The Atlantic.

To provide an illusion of superior quality, Trachtenberg spent some of the excess tuition revenues on needless amenities like ice cream socials and $2,500 per minute laser shows. He also made sure the campus was constantly under construction.

Other universities soon noticed and adopted Trachtenberg’s model.

Private universities spent more on noneducational assets than research, academic support and instruction between 1988 and 2008.

While the average American student graduates with $24,300 in debt, half are either unemployed or underemployed.

EMAIL: sparker@desnews.com

TWITTER: @SeanRParker

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