If subsidies cause tuition increases, imagine how expensive free college would be.

The Foundation for Economic Education reported.

Student Loan Subsidies Cause Almost All of the Increase in Tuition

In a new NBER paper, “Accounting for the Rise in College Tuition,” Grey Gordon and Aaron Hedlund create a sophisticated model of the college market and find that a large fraction of the increase in tuition can be explained by increases in subsidies.

With all factors present, net tuition increases from $6,100 to $12,559. As column 4 demonstrates, the demand shocks — which consist mostly of changes in financial aid — account for the lion’s share of the higher tuition.

Specifically, with demand shocks alone, equilibrium tuition rises by 102%, almost fully matching the 106% from the benchmark. By contrast, with all factors present except the demand shocks (column 7), net tuition only rises by 16%.

These results accord strongly with the Bennett hypothesis, which asserts that colleges respond to expansions of financial aid by increasing tuition.

Remarkably, so much of the subsidy is translated into higher tuition that enrollment doesn’t increase! What does happen is that students take on more debt, which many of them can’t pay.