For one thing, he doesn’t seem to know the difference between a fee-for-service and a fine as a penalty for violating the law or regulation. For another, fees also are paid voluntarily for other government services; nobody puts a gun to your head and orders you to go to the Office of Motor Vehicles and pay up (if successful in applying) to get a drivers’ license. More to the point, staying with his example, paying a fee for a driver’s license – for the service of testing, producing, and enforcing aspects related to using one – and paying a fee to receive education – for the service of imparting information and skills and evaluating them – seem hardly different. Finally, even if when you paid your tuition and all a school did was throw syllabi at you and tell you to go learn, that’s not all there is to higher education: the real value comes in guidance presented by instructors and their assessments of your performance. You’re paying not just for knowledge and capacity-building, but also for credentialing by awarded grades and, hopefully, degree completion. All of those are part of the service provided for which a fee may be charged.
First, much is driven by federal government grants whose amounts top out well above annual student payments to Louisiana colleges, and tax credits for single parents below incomes of $80,000 and married couples below $160,000 remain. Second, borrowing costs remain sufficiently low that in many instances unused capacity for a household of that can be tapped into with the thinking that the marginal cost of borrowing to be paid down the road still is less than the value received from the extra dollars going to receiving higher education. Third, among wealthier households that have resources on hand without the need to borrow may think the same of current dollar cost relative to future believed gains. Finally, for about a fifth of attendees, the costs can be off-loaded to another part of state government through the Taylor Opportunity Program for Scholars that pays tuition for meeting minimal standards of achievement.