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Schools share blame for high student debt

Students walk past Sather Gate on the University of California at Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif. last May.
Students walk past Sather Gate on the University of California at Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif. last May. (Ben Margot / Associated Press)

I read with some interest the recent commentary on student loan debt by Sarah Bloom Raskin and Seth Frotman (“As Feds ignore student debt crisis, states like Md. step in,” March 11). I was disappointed, however, that they ignored the largest co-conspirator in this fleecing of the American public — colleges and universities.

As grant and loan programs have expanded over the last 40 years in an admirable effort to broaden educational opportunity for all Americans, most colleges and universities have seen this as a golden opportunity to raise their prices as far and as fast as the available funding for these programs will permit. The price of a college education has risen far faster than the rate of inflation and even exceeded the ability of some institutions to spend the money on direct student or education related activities. Some institutions are having to resort to vast acquisitions of real property and other items of value each year in order to maintain their non-profit status.

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Along with an examination of predatory lending practices, there needs to be a parallel investigation of the cost of a college education. Congress needs to direct an open and independent audit of every college and university in the United States that not only determines if their expenditures are legal but whether they are directly related to the educational mission of the institution.

Chris Gale, Fallston

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