For years it’s been an open secret in higher education that tuition goes up every time the Feds raise the maximum Pell Grant or the upper limit on student loans. Federal support for higher education is a good thing, but one of its unintended consequences is to raise costs, as institutions of higher learning follow the money. (Does the average student actually pay less with Federal aid when all is said and done? The higher proportion of students earning college degrees today than in pre-aid days suggests so, but I’ve never seen a rigorous study to that effect.)
Now, though, comes word that financial aid officers at several top universities have been profiting not just institutionally but personally from the generous availability of federal guarantees for loans to students. One shouldn’t be shocked to find thieves in the midst of a lucrative program: as Willie Sutton advised, go where the money is. But the discovery leaves one’s image of the ivory tower just a bit tarnished.