You’ve no doubt been reading about Ronald Nelson, Jr., the National Merit Scholar, athlete, sax player, SAT high scorer, and student body president, who turned down acceptances from eight Ivy League schools and will attend instead the University of Alabama.

Smart young man. Nelson and his family made what must have been a difficult decision because they know that, if he attended one of the more famous schools, he would enter adult life weighed down by student loan debt:

After some thought and consideration of all the schools' offers, Nelson decided it wouldn't be worth the financial strain to use this money on his undergraduate education. He plans on going to medical school after college, and knows he'll be faced with more tuition costs.

"With people being in debt for years and years, it wasn't a burden that Ronald wanted to take on and it wasn't a burden that we wanted to deal with for a number of years after undergraduate," Ronald Sr. said. "We can put that money away and spend it on his medical school, or any other graduate school."

If more people were to make this decision (and, with costs skyrocketing, it is likely), the Ivy League schools might be forced to make hard decisions, too. Can such schools find ways to cut their costs and become more affordable? Or will bright young people such as Ronald Nelson,who don’t want to enter adulthood head over heels in debt, find other options.

Why do Ivy League colleges not do a better job of reining in their expenses? In a piece celebrating Ronald Nelson’s judgment, Mary Katharine Ham notes that one report treats Nelson’s decision as a “Shakespearean tragedy.” Ham writes:

Colleges have utterly failed to keep their costs down, and they should have to pay some price for it. But they almost never do, partly because of this mindset—that everyone should go to the college of their dreams, no matter what the cost, without a care for cost-benefit analyses, or how long it might take them to pay off the debts they accrue. The “solution” proposed for all of this is unlimited easy government-backed debt, which puts more students in more debt, puts those who didn’t accrue debt on the hook for those who flake, and incentivizes colleges to keep hiking costs with no end in sight.

If there were more Ronald Nelsons around, the Ivies would have to find ways to cut their costs.