Jun 4, 2015 · 2 minutes

Offering discounts to college students is stupid.

Everywhere you go in upstate New York, you'll see little signs promising small price cuts to students. There are so many colleges in the area that businesses are overwhelmingly compelled to offer these discounts.

But what you won't find is a good reason for these discounts. Do people getting an Ivy League education from Cornell really need to save a dollar on a movie ticket? How about community college students who still live at their parents' homes?

I suppose the idea is that students will patronize a business that offers a discount before they go somewhere that doesn't. Yet many of these kids are the epitome of a captive market -- how far will they travel from their dorms to see a movie?

These discounts often make even less sense when they apply to online services. Just consider Tidal's new student prices -- $4.99 a month for standard subscriptions and $9.99 for lossless hi-fi, as opposed to $9.99 and $19.99 for everybody else.

The implication here is that college students can't afford to pay more than a few bucks a month to access their favorite music. So instead of ignoring them and hoping they don't turn to piracy, these companies just reduce their prices.

But that model is filled with assumptions. Are college students really too poor to afford these services? Even if they are, will a $5 discount keep them from turning to piracy? And aren't there other people who struggle to come up with $9.99 a month?

Nationwide Insurance claims that college students make around $14,400 per year, if they work a part-time job and have some "help from mom and dad." A part-time worker in New York making the state's minimum wage earns about $9,100.

And that's forgetting that many college students either live with their parents or in a dorm, which dramatically reduces their cost of living, or at least includes those costs in whatever they're paying to their university of choice.

Yet there isn't much support for people who make less money with higher living expenses. Creating a system like that would be complicated -- it's much easier to just assume that college students are spendthrifts who like music.

But that's just a cop-out. There isn't a real reason to give college students a discount -- it seems to be something these companies are doing simply because other companies do the same. And that's a stupid reason to do anything.