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A graduating student wears a money lei on June 14, in Pasadena, California. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Most middle-class parents view paying for college as a moral obligation, not just a budgetary challenge, according to new research by New York University associate professor Caitlin Zaloom, the New York Times reports.

Driving the news: Even when money isn't a problem, Operation Varsity Blues illustrates that some parents will go to great, possibly illegal lengths to secure the "right" school for their children. Wealthy parents — dentistry professors, doctors, executives, actors and lawyers — funded what the DOJ has called the biggest admissions scam in U.S. history, to secure spots for their kids at the University of Texas, Yale, Georgetown and other schools.

What they found: Zaloom argues that paying for college complicates how parents save for their own futures and how they pay for their children's development. Coming up with the cash to pay for college can deplete parents' retirement funds and drop them out of the middle class.

  • Through 160 interviews with college students and their parents over 7 years, Zaloom found that parents and their children will "prioritize the 'right' school — and then find ways to meet the cost, no matter what it takes," per the NYT.
  • Zaloom argues that this pressure to get kids into college has "fundamentally changed the experience of being middle class" in the U.S.
  • The research also resulted in the notion of "social speculation," wherein parents wager money today, betting their children's education will secure them a future space in the middle class.

The big picture: The cost of going to public or private school has been ratcheting up for decades. Zaloom writes in the NYT that the average yearly cost of attending an American university totals $50,000, while less than 5% of Americans have college savings accounts. Meanwhile, the Fed says student loans are smothering the housing market and more Democratic 2020 candidates are campaigning on the promise of tuition-free college.

Go deeper: How paying for college is changing middle-class life

Go deeper

Scoop: Former OMB director to set up Pro-Trump think tanks

OMB Director Russ Vought parfticipates in a photo-op for the printing of President Donald Trumps budget for Fiscal Year 2020 at the Government Publishing Office in Washington on Thursday, March 7, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Russ Vought, who led Donald Trump's Office of Management and Budget, plans to announce two pro-Trump organizations Tuesday, aiming to provide the ideological ammunition to sustain Trump's political movement after his departure from the White House.

Why it matters: The Center for American Restoration and an advocacy arm, America Restoration Action, will try to keep cultural issues that animated Trump’s presidency on the public agenda, according to people familiar with the matter.

Janet Yellen confirmed as Treasury secretary

Janet Yellen. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Senate voted 84-15 to confirm Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary on Monday.

Why it matters: Yellen is the first woman to serve as Treasury secretary, a Cabinet position that will be crucial in helping steer the country out of the pandemic-induced economic crisis.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Scoop: Red Sox strike out on deal to go public

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The parent company of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C. has ended talks to sell a minority ownership stake to RedBall Acquisition, a SPAC formed by longtime baseball executive Billy Beane and investor Gerry Cardinale, Axios has learned from multiple sources. An alternative investment, structured more like private equity, remains possible.

Why it matters: Red Sox fans won't be able to buy stock in the team any time soon.