One of the biggest expenses for the American family is higher education.

Why is it so expensive? Does it really cost this much to educate somebody? A new report suggests that, far from being cash-strapped, colleges and universities are actually “choking on cash.”

Here’s what Mal Kline of Campus Report Online says:

“Although the academic community continually cries poor, especially when, alternatively, raising tuitions or seeking government subsidies, some dissident professors point out that the Ivory Tower is not under- but over-funded.

“Colleges and universities nationwide spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year, figures from The Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac show. Certainly, school officials have no trouble finding projects to spend budget dollars on. Duke University, for example, gives each freshman a cutting-edge high tech iPod (the new bells-and-whistles successor to the walkman) for no particular reason.”

That colleges are too rich rather than too poor is a truly counterintuitive notion. Kline’s piece, though a tad disjointed, is well worth a read. As a rule, I’d refrain from spoiling your fun by revealing the ending.

But the idea put forward as the root of the problem is just so intriguing that I can’t stop myself from quoting more. The man being quoted is Richard Vedder, an economics professor, and author of Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much:

“’What’s the problem with higher education?’ Vedder asks rhetorically. ’It’s not for profit.’
“Vedder compares for-profit education, favorably, with not-for-profit education. Dividing school budgets by students, Vedder found, leaves the University of Phoenix spending $6,000 per student compared to the average state university which spends about three times that amount, or $20,000 per student.”