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The $100,000 a year college


It’s almost here:

It was only a matter of time before a college would have the nerve to quote its cost of attendance at nearly $100,000 a year. This spring, we’re catching our first glimpse of it.

One letter to a newly admitted Vanderbilt University engineering student showed an all-in price — room, board, personal expenses, a high-octane laptop — of $98,426. A student making three trips home to Los Angeles or London from the Nashville campus during the year could hit six figures.

This eye-popping sum is an anomaly. Only a tiny fraction of college-going students will pay anything close to this anytime soon, and about 35 percent of Vanderbilt students — those who get neither need-based nor merit aid — pay the full list price.

But a few dozen other colleges and universities that reject the vast majority of applicants will probably arrive at this threshold within a few years. Their willingness to cross it raises two questions for anyone shopping for college: How did this happen, and can it possibly be worth it?

On the “how did this happen” question, see the works of this blog’s law professor passim.


President Biden will announce a new effort on Monday to reduce or eliminate student loan debt for millions of borrowers, an election-year attempt to revive his goal of providing large-scale relief for Americans struggling to pay off their college loans, a person familiar with the plan said Friday.

Mr. Biden is expected to preview new regulations by the Education Department targeting millions of borrowers, including those whose loans have ballooned because of accrued interest and others who can demonstrate financial hardship impeding repayment, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the regulations have not yet been formally proposed by the department.


The proposed language in the regulation said that the U.S. education secretary could waive student debt when it was determined that “a borrower has experienced or is experiencing hardship related to such a loan such that the hardship is likely to impair the borrower’s ability to fully repay the federal government or the costs of enforcing the full amount of the debt are not justified by the expected benefits of continued collection of the entire debt.”

That regulation listed 17 factors to consider when assessing whether a borrower qualifies for the hardship waiver. Those include: household income and assets, student loan balance, total loan balance, age, disability, high cost burdens for essential expenses such as health care, and “any other indicators of hardship identified by the secretary.”

Whether this can survive the Court, who knows — they did, after all, hold that the authority explicitly granted by Congress to “waive or modify” student loans did not entail the power to modify student loans. But there’s no point in capitulating preemptively.

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