Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Is making higher education affordable possible?

There is no doubt about it that the cost of going to college is skyrocketing, and politicians are not helping the cause. For example, Clinton’s “New College Compact” basically, the plan is to spend more tax dollars, so we can make college debt-free. However, she is proposing to spend nearly $350 billion throughout the course of 10 years to fund college tuition and reduce student loan payments.

Yet this solution is not really a solution at all when you think about it. It would be a Band-Aid to the entire problem. This solution does not address the skyrocketing tuition costs: how much federal funds will go into higher education and lacks an alternative to the customary four-year degrees. 

However, it does broaden the higher education space and has room for innovation.

Needless to say the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act, also known as HERO would pick up the slack that Clinton’s “New College Compact” lacks in. HERO was introduced by Sen. Mike Lee.  The HERO Act defines their own accreditation standards and includes alternatives to the customary four-year degree. Access to these alternatives through the accreditation reform will lessen the frustration of rising tuition and student loan debt.

This burden has been growing alongside the government spending on education. The federal Pell Grants have increased from $2.5 billion in 1980 to nearly $30 billion in 2015. Needless to say, the cost of college also skyrocketed over 500 percent since 1985.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York conducted a study that revealed that every dollar that was added to the Pell grants caused the tuition to jump by 55 cents, while on the other hand every dollar added to subsidized loans causes tuition by 65 cents.

In other words, the more money the government puts into education, the more expensive the tuition costs. Basically, the connection between the government and tuition costs are the reason for the affordability issue. The promise of the taxpayers funding the schools gives the schools enticement to increase prices, knowing that there will always be someone to foot the bill—you the taxpayer.

Basically, if we go back to what Clinton wants to do and increase the federal funding, what will that do for college students? That will just raise the prices of how much it will cost to get your degree. The average student loan borrower in 2015 will need to pay nearly $35,000 in student loan debt. College student and even graduate students cannot afford that on their income.

Rather than sticking to the old ideas about funding education, reformers should really work towards a complete makeover on how to fund education, since the old ways are not working. That means more choices and alternatives to customary four-year degrees.

So that is where the HERO Act comes into play. It will reform the federal accreditation standards used to organize which schools are legitimate. This entire process is vital, determining whether the credits can be transferred from school to school. Sadly, the process does more to protect colleges that are already established for the competition to promote high-quality, affordable education.

Needless to say, this is a step in the right direction. It is paving the way for more options to get a better quality, affordable education system rather than a difficult and costly spending education system we have now. 

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