By Nick Perry
Posted by Alma Zhumagulova
COLLEGES ARE like the cookie monster. They seek and devour every resource in sight, with few constraints and even less restraint. At least that's how Ronald Ehrenberg describes it when explaining the big question on the minds of so many parents:
Why does college cost so much?
"Our sole goal is to find cookies and stuff our mouths," says Ehrenberg, who directs the Higher Education Research Institute at Cornell University. "Colleges and universities like to grab as many resources as they can. We want to make ourselves as good as we can. We want the best facilities, students, resident halls and labs, so there's this tremendous drive to be better, and that costs money." For a long time, he says, "there's been no check on this drive to get better, because the lines of students wanting to get into institutions keep getting longer."
Of course, the U.S. higher-education system has long been the envy of the world. A college degree has become a requirement to enter almost any profession, and can increase lifetime earnings by a million dollars or more.
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