There is no college cost crisis. That at least is the conclusion reached by the economists Robert B. Archibald and David H. Feldman in their new book, "Why Does College Cost So Much?" The title question is a teaser, for the book's message is that it doesn't. In fact, say the authors, "for most families higher education is more affordable than it was in the past."
Archibald and Feldman build their analysis of college costs in opposition to what they call the "new orthodoxy" or the "dysfunctionality narrative." In that narrative, repeated almost religiously by critics and politicians, colleges and universities have "drifted away from their social mission," surrendered to the false god of research, and engaged in an "arms race" for more prestigious scholars and ever-glitzier student unions. As a result, "their costs have sprawled out of control" and "the college degree, an essential entry ticket to the modern economy" has become "increasingly out of reach for families with middle-class incomes."