Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How to increase the cost of post secondary education

Perhaps you have seen the recent television ads from the Ontario government explaining that school isn't like the movies. The ads show dramatized scenes of a student making an extraordinary football catch, another completing an arcane math equation on a blackboard, and both being offered fully paid university scholarships.
Alas, those were movies, in real life students and their parents need to pay for education, so the Ontario government has a solution. It will give qualified students 30% off on their tuition.

You might think that qualifying for this discount would be difficult, not at all, easy as pie. This eligibility wizard lets you know if you qualify, you should try it. You might be surprised to read that in order to qualify gross parental income must be less than $160,000. Thats right $160K, not exactly poverty, not by a long shot. So, if your parents only make a paltry $150K per annum, you're in.
A brief check of average per capita income in Ontario, and you find that most families pull in considerably less than $100K, let alone $160K.
Now lets look at tuition, average undergrad tuition in Ontario is the highest in Canada at just under $7200. A 30% discount brings it down to about $5000.
Sure, even that is a strain on any family, but children take about 18 years before they are ready for university, and planning and saving is something I would expect everyone to do, but thats me, and that is the responsible thing to do.

The point is, making the cost of education lower for many people, actually makes it more expensive for everyone.

When something of value becomes cheaper, more of that something is consumed. Demand for that something becomes greater. Greater demand generally results in higher prices. That is what will happen and is happening to the cost of education in many jurisdictions.

This is another example of how a well-meaning government action is not fully thought through, but in fact leads to unintended consequences as this video points out:

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