Academic, Pay Thyself

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

When one sees an institution hemorrhaging cash, one wonders why said entity cannot curb spending. When one is actually benefiting from the expenditures, one never sees enough of the elusive spondulix.

Thus, both government agencies and universities, which have a very large overlap, consume ever more resources with a hunger that is never satiated. Meanwhile, they offer recommendations that look, on the face of it, to be attempts that may well make the problems worse.

To mere outsiders, universities have been squeezing the middle class for tuition while downplaying merit. So, what does a Vanderbilt professor want to do? Eliminate tax credits for the middle class and merit-based aid.

“The current tax credit program is aimed at many of the wrong people and is both backward looking and mostly non-refundable,” William R. Doyle writes in a report for the Committee for Economic Development. “The system should be eliminated, with the savings used to fund the initiatives described below.”

“This would provide an additional $18.2 billion to be used for other programs.” Ah yes, other programs.

“Tax credits go primarily to families of middle-income students— students who would go to college with or without the credit,” Doyle explains. “In addition, the timing of these programs (students and families receive tax credits in the form of refunds in the year after college tuition is paid) means that they are not of any assistance to families who are unable to pay tuition bills when they are due.”

“Tax credits can therefore be considered primarily a form of middle-income tax relief as opposed to student financial aid.” Yes, parents getting part of their money back after paying the school a good chunk of their annual income would not look efficacious from inside the Ivory Tower.

Meanwhile, with graduation rates around 60 percent and surveys and tests showing little knowledge gained in so-called institutions of higher learning, Dr. Doyle takes aim at—merit. “The primary concern about merit-based financial aid is that these programs provide aid for students who would have gone to college without any additional help,” he avers. “They therefore represent a shift away from the principles that guided most governmental financial aid for the previous four decades.”

“This is undoubtedly the case, as the characteristics of students who receive state non-need-based aid reveal that they are among the groups most likely to attend college without additional aid.”


Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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