Thursday, September 26, 2013

College Costs: US and Canada are on Different Planets

As I leave later today for the first foray into the US for college tours for my daughter, I saw this piece and it almost makes me weep.  University costs in Canada are really, really, really low.  Which I already knew, having scoffed at the Quebec students protesting their especially low tuition.  This article quickly sums up the basic reality in most of Canada: once you build in grants, scholarships and tax credits, the costs have gone down and not up for most folks:
Economists such as Carleton University professor Frances Woolley note that we’ve moved to this rebate system because everyone wins: well-off students with mediocre grades (who wouldn’t have gotten into university at all back when I went) are now effectively subsidizing the smart kids and the ones who need financial aid. This takes some of the burden off the government funding, and still allows universities to grow and admit more students every year.
This is quite un-Canadian since the folks here tend to hate means-testing, which often means that the poor subsidize the rich, essentially.  But here we have a nice progressive outcome.

Alas, I have grown up with the philosophy that my kid should go anywhere that she feels is best for her, and given the lack of liberal arts colleges in Canada, she very well may go south for college.  Which means heaps of dollars and hence my weeping.  Sure, the sticker price for American schools is not always what folks pay, but it is far closer to the real price for us unless there are scholarships for ex-pat Americans that we do not know of.  

The Canadian students should appreciate how good they have it, and the provincial governments should do their best not to screw up a good thing.  Watch them try.

Oh well, the adventure begins. 

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