The recent paper, by economists at Harvard and George Washington University, compared more than 2,650 programs within for-profit schools in three states over multiple years and found that the schools receiving federal grants and loans set their tuition roughly 75 percent higher than those institutions that go without government support.
College tuition wasn’t always a national crisis. As recently as the 1970s, the price of tuition actually declined 17 percent at public universities and 13 percent at private ones, according to data from the American Council on Education, a leading higher-ed lobby.
By the 1980s, things had changed. The price of tuition started to climb: By the end of the decade, it was up 47 percent at public universities and 54 percent at private schools, according to the council. What was different?… the Middle Income Student Assistance Act, which had the effect of offering federally subsidized student loans to anyone who qualified for college, regardless of income. During the Carter and Reagan administrations, the government further expanded federal aid, including Pell grants and Perkins loans for needy students. From 1978 to 1981, total available aid grew 70 percent, to a total of $14.7 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Full editorial on college costs in the Dallas Morning News.