My tuition-free MIT idea gets adopted… by some Harvard folks

Back in 1998, I published “Tuition-free MIT” and noted various benefits of structuring a college to live off endowment rather than tuition. Nearly 20 years later, it seems that at least some folks at Harvard are taking up the idea: “A Push to Make Harvard Free Also Questions the Role of Race in Admissions” (nytimes; as a sign of the zeitgeist it is mostly about race rather than $$ and academic performance).


  1. Toucan Sam

    January 15, 2016 @ 3:32 pm


    This is great!

  2. Demetri

    January 15, 2016 @ 6:13 pm


    In an up market, the returns on a large endowment look good. What happens when bad investments and low returns erode the endowment in the future? Just ask the folks at Cooper Union who are now going in the opposite direction.

  3. superMike

    January 15, 2016 @ 6:21 pm


    If Harvard were to give financial aid based on academic performance, wouldn’t it pretty much become MIT?

  4. Andrew

    January 16, 2016 @ 12:03 am


    @superMike: MIT doesn’t have a Divinity School.

  5. Yossi Kreinin

    January 16, 2016 @ 4:51 am


    OT, but as another sign of the zeitgeist, here’s an interesting discussion of sexism in recent news:

    “…both male and female Democrats … are more likely to support Clinton than Sanders. But the margins are far closer among men… Some attribute it to sexism among men, some to women naturally being more likely to support the person who would be the first woman president.”

    My first reading was that sexism among women isn’t, but upon second reading, I realize that perhaps the more literal understanding is “sexism among men is unnatural whereas among women it is natural.”

  6. Calico

    January 18, 2016 @ 2:25 am


    I thought Harvard admission already *was* free to those under the 90th percentile in parental income, though I like the move as an anchor for the rest of academia.

    As for Asian americans, I believe the data shows that virtually every spot granted by affirmative action is taken away from Asian americans. I wonder how many white americans currently benefit from the big-money and political connections, which simply can’t be taken away from. Primarily wasps, I guess?

    To keep AA going for certain under-represented groups, would it simply return to a mixture of keeping qualified jews out and less, yet still some, qualified Asians out?

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