Ivory Tower (PG-13)

Documentary 101 min. June 13, 2014
By Daphne Howland
Although it's full of information, the documentary Ivory Tower at its core poses a question: Is the price of college worth it? The film touches on a host of issues beyond finances, including the party culture at some schools, the unique value of historically black colleges, and experimentation with online education, especially Massive Open Online Courses. What gets short shrift is the answer to the film's essential question, which, at least according to recent research, remains very much "yes." Study after study, even those that take into account today's staggering price of four years of undergraduate schooling, continues to find that, as a group, college graduates enjoy a far higher standard of living and level of income than people who don't go. The film focuses on a few recent graduates with high levels of debt (indeed, student debt in America has topped $1 trillion), but doesn't explore how students and their parents could better finance their degrees; after all, average debt per student is $25,000, not a bad investment in what could be a half-million-dollar advantage over a lifetime. The film does make you think, especially about how universities are spending their ever-increasing tuition on top-notch campus amenities and their own disastrous loans, and how state governments and federal agencies are similarly passing their education cuts on to the young people who they expect to one day run the economy and society.
Andrew Rossi Andrew Rossi Andrew Rossi, Josh Braun Samuel Goldwyn Films

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