Could the time to end federal aid to higher education have long passed?
“The federal government has no constitutional authority to do anything with regard to higher education (or any level, for that matter),” George Leef writes in Forbes. “But in 1965, Congress was swarming with ‘progressives’ who were sure that because college seemed to be a good thing for the rather small percentage of Americans who went, the nation would benefit if almost everyone went.”
“So the federal policy began to make higher education more ‘accessible’ for students, most significantly through grants and easily available loans. The result was that college education was transformed.” Leef is director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, based in North Carolina.
“It had been a good that some Americans thought worthwhile, so they strove to qualify for admittance and saved for the modest cost,” Leef notes. “That’s why higher education used to work very well.”
“Federal intervention turned it into a virtual entitlement that delivers less education at more and more expense. It has also helped create the problem of credential inflation, shutting people who don’t have college degrees out from good jobs they could easily learn. As long as we have this law and the constant federal meddling it provokes, we will have a fantastically wasteful higher education system.”
And just one more thing: “Federal outlays have increased the cost of college,” economist Richard Vedder said in a conference call last year, and yet “a smaller percentage of students come from the bottom quintile now than in 1970 before we had these federal education programs.”