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EDITORIAL – Prioritizing financial aid

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Higher ed commission recommends big increase 

–  Eugene Register Guard

…Gov. John Kitzhaber told the [Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission] to prepare a proposal for spending an additional $147 million on higher education, beyond the amount that would be needed to sustain the status quo in the 2015-17 biennium…

The commission recommended that $66 million, the biggest single portion of the $147 million, be allocated to student financial aid. An allocation of that size would increase current resources for state financial aid by 60 percent…

Our Response & Your Comments

Flash to Guv Kitz: Here’s an ironclad rule of economics: If you want more of something, subsidize it. It works for anything – including tuition.

Let’s be clear: We’re all for helping poor kids go to college. What we’re not for is the massive increases in government subsidies for tuition that have, according to former Secretary of Education William Bennett, “enabled colleges and universities blithely to raise their tuitions, confident that Federal loan subsidies would help cushion the increase.”

Between 1997 and 2008 total student aid (in constant dollars) rose 84%, helping to push tuition and fees at public four year colleges & universities up 50% in constant dollars.

So we have a vicious cycle: government subsidies make tuition more expensive, which causes politicians to toss in more government subsidies, which makes tuition even more expensive, which causes politicians…(you get the picture).

What have we gotten for all this money? From 1997 to 2008 the six year graduation rate rose 7% – which is less than the 10% population increase. What have college kids and parents gotten? Gigantic bills. How about the politicians who goosed tuition up for these kids and parents? They’ve gotten what they most crave: votes.


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