Search
Books
  • Reinventing Higher Education: The Promise of Innovation
    Reinventing Higher Education: The Promise of Innovation
    by Ben Wildavsky
  • Accountability in American Higher Education (Education Policy)
    Accountability in American Higher Education (Education Policy)
    Palgrave Macmillan
Friday
May252012

On the Romney Higher Education Plan

Over at The New Republic I discuss how the K-12 part of Mitt Romney's recently-released education plan is highly focused on markets and student choice. The higher education side is, too, where it’s arguably more appropriate. College students are adults (although many just barely) who in theory can choose among a vast array of institutions. Romney is right to say:

“Students and their families must also be given the information they need to intelligently weigh the costs and benefits of the many options available to them. Better information about products and services helps consumers make more informed choices, and nowhere is this as important as when students consider a postsecondary education. Despite requirements that colleges and universities report volumes of data to the U.S. Department of Education, there is no simple way for students to access that data and interpret its implications.”

From there, however, Romney calls for repealing President Obama’s two signature higher education initiatives: reforming the federal student loan system and cracking down on abusive for-profit colleges. Prior to 2010, the federal government spent billions of dollars paying private banks to make student loans that the federal government then guaranteed against default. Now it saves money by issuing loans directly. Since banks are still free to lend money to students in the private debt market whenever and however they like, Romney’s call to “embrace a private-sector role in providing information, financing, and education itself” presumably means restoring a wasteful system of corporate welfare. Romney characterizes the so-called “gainful employment” regulations that will penalize for-profit colleges whose graduates can’t make enough money to pay back their loans as “ill-advised.” These regulations have already been watered down after a year of intense industry lobbying and subsequently denounced by many student advocates as too weak.

And in the part of his plan that amounts to pure doublspeak, Romney responds to mounting anxiety among students and families about rising college costs by declaring that “a flood of federal dollars is driving up tuition and burdening too many young Americans with substantial debt.” Or, switching metaphors, “We must stop fueling skyrocketing tuition prices that put higher education out of reach for some and leave others with crushing debt.” As Romney notes, college tuition has risen sharply since 2008 and Obama has responded by supporting large increases in funding for Pell grants, tax credits, and other forms of student aid. The clear implication of the flooding / fueling theory is that tuition rose because of Obama’s spending on student aid, and that cutting said spending--as is all but inevitable under the Paul Ryan budget framework that Romney supports--would cure the higher education price disease.

Econ 101 supports the basic observation that when the government subsidizes a market good, the subsidy is ultimately split between the producer and the consumer. This isn’t so much a problem to be solved as a well-understood consequence of achieving the larger social goal of making higher education broadly accessible to students of modest economic means while supporting colleges and universities in the production and dissemination of knowledge. It’s also likely that, among for-profit colleges that receive 90 percent or more of their funding from federal aid, marginal increases in federal grant and loan amounts produce commensurate hikes in tuition. To be sure, constantly-increasing college prices are a major problem for which colleges themselves bear significant responsibility. So do state legislatures that have disproportionately cut college budgets.

But that’s a far cry from saying that cuts in Pell grants and federal loan limits during a time of high unemployment and rapidly increasing college prices will impose some kind of immediate salutary discipline on the higher education market and save students money. It won’t. Bending down the higher education cost curve is a long-term project. Cutting federal aid in the short-term will deny access and opportunity to huge numbers of low-income and out-of-work students at precisely the time that they, and the nation, need higher education most.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (28)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: the income factor
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Response: WhatsApp For PC
  • Response
    Response: CEED Exam Pattern
  • Response
    The chest-beating of the past few weeks by its mobile messaging competitors seems to have frazzled the folks at WhatsApp, the mobile messaging app that is most widely used in the most countries around the world. So WhatsApp called up yesterday to say it now has 400 million users — active ...
  • Response
    Response: Engineering
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Response: fun run hack
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Response: foam roller
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Response: Click here
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Response: Steve Jacob
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Response: nizovede.jimdo.com
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Response: title loans
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Response: see this website
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Response: wire necklaces diy
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Response: comprar un ebook
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Response: belinda broido
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan
  • Response
    Response: belinda broido
    Kevin Carey - Blog - On the Romney Higher Education Plan

Reader Comments (1)

It's good to know that there are people like you who think of the higher education. Good luck man!

May 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>
« Grappling With Higher Education's Gordian Knot | Main | Stanford's Credential Problem »