April 13, 2011
The New York Times today has an opinion piece by Henry Riggs, President of Harvey Mudd College, that discusses price and quality, perception and reality of colleges. It uses Pomona and Earlham as running examples.
Essentially he argues that colleges charge what the market will bear, and spend all that they have. He also says “Spending less means financial aid policies would be less generous and the student body therefore less diverse and stellar.” But I don’t think that’s defensible. Our percentage of students on Pell grants is significantly higher than Pomona’s, and our student body is more diverse than theirs in some important ways. Having more money to spend, and spending it all, doesn’t at all mean that such institutions deliver more value.