A TUITION SUR-TAX
A day or two ago the "Daily Princetonian" created a flurry in the world of colleges by proposing higher tuition fees for the rich than for the poor. The stir was so great, in fact, that the "New York Times" saw fit to comment on the plan editorially. What the "Princetonian" said in effect was this: the present tuition fee comes nowhere near meeting the actual cost to the college of a student's education. It is unwise, however, to raise the fee for all, because a larger fee would keep away the poor. But there is no reason why the rich should share the benefit of gifts to the college and of endowment funds--created in many instances by people less well-to-do than themselves. Why not, therefore, charge the rich just what their education costs the college?
All this has a ring of plausibility; but it is only half the story. Besides the fact that the sin of discriminating against the rich in favor of the poor--so often committed in the name of democracy--is as wrong in principle as discriminating against the poor in favor of the rich, there is the even-present question of "How will the plan work". The "Times" does not take up this question. It contents itself with quashing the proposal on the score of democracy. But it seems to us that the matter of practicability forms an even better objection. Unless Princeton can find some scheme of "information at the source"--after the manner of income tax officials--how is she to know who is rich? It would be very difficult to draw a line. The United States Government finds the task exceedingly complicated. Not only must actual Income be considered, but allowance must be made for the size of the family, bad debts, depreciation on real estate, losses in speculation and so on--(for more details, see the recent tax law!). The plan seems to belong to the category of those which look perfectly sound on paper, but which are hopeless when they come to be tried out--only this one does not even look sound on paper.