…the current system ties the amount of accessible financial
aid to the schools that students attend, giving schools with more
resources a distinct advantage…students accepted to a Princeton or Harvard face virtually no
quality vs. price trade-off.
What this means for higher education as a whole is that the
current financial aid system, whereby alumni and other prominent donors
contribute to schools, rather than individuals, reinforces the
perceived status of those schools that are considered “top-tier.”
While demand for high quality higher education continues to increase
the supply of top-tier higher education has not changed much
at all (one need only look at the lack of variability in the U.S. News
rankings for proof of this point). And as any Econ 101 student can
tell you, when demand far outstrips supply, costs are inevitably pushed
I like the idea but fear that institutions of higher learning can offer donors greater perks than can intermediaries that match donors to students. Might it be possible to, say, offer donors the chance to support students through the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with the Met taking a lower cut than Harvard does, yet still handing out donor perks?