SOS’ Shakely Talks Stimulus
In an opinion piece in the Philadelphia Bulletin, Thomas Shakely, founder of Safeguard Old State, discusses the effect of the currently debated stimulus package on higher education. Shakely argues that:
this increase in taxpayer funding of higher education will not result in fundamentally better colleges or universities. Our universities and colleges will likely be less affordable and largely the same academically despite this major investment.
The way the bill has been written makes it fairly easy for the money intended for education to be diverted to other causes deemed important by the state. Additionally, the increase in Pell Grant aid as a result of the bill is a short-term measure that doesn’t attempt to solve the problem of higher education affordability.
The stimulus bill actively works against the President’s goal of an “ethic of responsibility” by increasing Stafford loan limits by $2,000, allowing for students to pile on more debt at colleges that show no signs of keeping their costs in check.
Basically, the stimulus bill throws more money at colleges and universities that refuse to rein in costs and instead pass on the increased costs to the student.
If college administrators know that students can borrow $2,000 more, will there not be a strong desire to also increase tuition by a similar amount? They can be utterly profligate in their expansion of their campuses and programs, and while costs skyrocket, they can argue that loan programs exist to mitigate the burden.
So clearly, a better stimulus package is needed for higher education that attempts to correct the wrongs of the reckless spending of institutions. Throwing money at the problem is obviously not the answer. Shakely concludes:
Congress very well may sentence our young people to a two-fold punishment with this bill: first, to suffer institutions of higher education less affordable, and second, to bear the responsibility of footing the bill for this borrowed, $1 trillion “stimulus.”