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By any plausible metric (tuition adjusted for inflation, ratio of tuition to family income, ratio of tuition to compensation for new MIT graduates), the cost of an MIT education has skyrocketed over the past generation. Yes, there is assistance for poor students and the lower end of middle class, but for upper middle class but hardly wealthy families, MIT has become unaffordable. I don't think that a good case can be made that the MIT education of today is so much better than it was a generation ago that the increased cost is justified.
I think that MIT should set a goal that at some time in the near future, tuition will be no higher than it was a generation ago, adjusted by inflation. Having set that goal, the next step would be a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the factors that have driven the excessive increases in tuitiion, followed by making and executing action plans. This is no different than what corporations have done to remain competitive.
Obviously MIT has more applicants than it knows to do with, and there is no desperate reason to reduce tuition. But MIT is not a profit-maximizing company selling luxury goods. It has a different mission, and that mission would be better served by a tuition that did not financially stress families or place graduates deeply into debt.
Committing to hold tuition to
Committing to hold tuition to inflation would be a good first step, but why not be bold?