Rebecca Kathryn Jude and Chauncey DePree write for the Federalist about a significant threat to the quality of American higher education.

“You have to go to college” was an article of faith when we were growing up in poor families. Now we wonder if our ticket out of poverty still has the same value. Far too many of this generation are leaving college with substantial debt and few meaningful job opportunities.

Put a little differently, what is the value of a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies or sociology or any other fields that are not science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or business? Ask some of the young people working at your local coffee shop or favorite restaurant. They will probably tell you, “not much.”

The problem has become so overwhelming that politicians are talking about “free” college and “forgiving” college debt. It sounds good. The truth is that these proposals are a disaster in the making because they ignore the root cause of out-of-control costs of higher education.

What is the root cause? It is an effectively unlimited supply of cash for public universities and colleges to squander without any requirement to improve. Over the past few decades, U.S. higher education has seen dramatic changes, few of which have been for the better. …

… Once in place, these administrators justify their existence often by the simple expedient of spending more money. As Bill Bennett, secretary of education under President Ronald Reagan, explained, “The tendency of the colleges and universities at the undergraduate or the graduate level is to charge as much as they can, and continue to build and expand.”