Academic journal article AEI Paper & Studies

Executive Summary

Academic journal article AEI Paper & Studies

Executive Summary

Article excerpt

By international standards, American colleges charge high tuition, and students must often take out loans to cover the cost of their higher education. This has prompted many to wonder why the United States cannot copy the higher education policies of certain other rich countries, such as Finland, where students at public universities pay zero tuition thanks to a heavy government subsidy. But subsidies are not the only aspect of a country's higher education system that policymakers should care about. Whether universities produce enough graduates and have enough resources to provide a high-quality education also matter--but these aspects of higher education are usually in tension with higher government subsidies.

This report compares the United States to 34 other developed countries, all members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and illustrates how these nations navigate the trade-offs between the various qualities policymakers and the public would like to see in their higher education system. While the public purse bears a relatively low share of the costs in the American university system, the United States ranks ahead of most of the developed world on other goals, such as college degree attainment and resources available for higher education. …

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