North Carolina’s Universities Are Affordable—But There’s Room for Improvement

Each year, higher education seems to become less and less affordable: As tuition prices continue to rise, an increasing number of students leave college with crippling amounts of student loan debt. Yet, some state university systems have managed to keep the cost of attendance down. One is in North Carolina, where the average cost of … Continue reading “North Carolina’s Universities Are Affordable—But There’s Room for Improvement”


Why Conservative Policymakers Should Support Community Colleges

In the first installment of this series, I offered several reasons why conservative families ought to consider sending their kids to the local community college. This time, I would like to examine some of the reasons why conservative state legislators and other policymakers should be supportive of the two-year colleges in their states. I do … Continue reading “Why Conservative Policymakers Should Support Community Colleges”


The Quizzical Case of UNC’s “Buy Local” Resolution

State governments have long favored giving preferential treatment to businesses in the state. North Carolina, for instance, has a general policy that favors local companies for state purchases. Now, in a perplexing move, University of North Carolina system is exploring a similar measure. At a December meeting, the Board of Governors discussed a “buy local” … Continue reading “The Quizzical Case of UNC’s “Buy Local” Resolution”


Does the Bennett Hypothesis Still Matter?

It’s been 30 years since then-Education Secretary William J. Bennett took to the pages of The New York Times to chide colleges for their “greedy” behavior. He decried the negative effect federal student aid seemed to have on tuition, namely, that it allowed universities to raise prices without feeling the consequences of reduced demand or lower-quality … Continue reading “Does the Bennett Hypothesis Still Matter?”



The Vision Thing

The 2008 financial crisis, which still lingers in the higher education community, should not have been a surprise. Higher education has a financial cycle—trough, recovery, peak and decline—that mirrors the business cycle. Neither corporate nor university executives can predict with any certainty when the next downturn will occur, but institutional leaders could have prepared their institutions by containing their ambitions, creating safeguards, and developing contingency plans.

My heretical view is that mainstream public and private not-for-profit higher education boards of trustees have neither the will nor the incentive to control their institutions’ costs. The pursuit and maintenance of prestige are more valued than fiscal responsibility.