Higher education — and higher costs


With outsized tuition costs, colleges have nerve balking at tax proposal

Higher education’s opposition to the House tax plan is laughable (“Colleges prepare to fight against GOP’s tax plan,” Page A1, Nov. 4). Every time Congress has passed legislation in an attempt to make college more affordable, the universities have raised tuition at rates that rival the health industry. In 1977, the tuition for a high-end private college was about $4,000. In 40 years, tuition has risen to about $50,000, more than 12 times the 1977 rate. In contrast, median family income has risen from about $12,000 to $53,000.

Here’s an idea for the universities: They could easily compensate for students’ loss of deductions for student loan interest under the GOP plan by lowering tuition. A $2,500 deduction is worth only $625 at the 25 percent tax bracket, which is equal to a 1.25 percent reduction in tuition. If you need help figuring out where to cut, I’ll be happy to help.

Robert W. Marchetti


Schools need to work on their pitch before lobbying Congress


Re “Colleges prepare to fight against GOP’s tax plan” by Deirdre Fernandes: Michael Armini, a senior vice president of external affairs at Northeastern University, says that colleges will lobby members of Congress to alter the proposed tax package to assure that reforms won’t “create disincentives for people to pursue a college degree.” This borders on the absurd. There may be problems with the proposed tax package that require further consideration. But it is ludicrous to suggest that taxing some college endowments, or eliminating the deduction for interest paid on student loans, is going to be a factor in a student’s decision to attend college.

This calls to mind the comment credited to Russell B. Long, the longtime senator from Louisiana, who, as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said that for most people, tax reform meant, “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree.” Surely college administrators can find a more compelling and persuasive rationale for objecting to the sections of the tax reform proposal that will affect colleges and their students.

John E. Sutton