Barack Obama and Joe Biden are set to hit the road today on a tour of colleges in the Pennsylvania and upstate New York areas. They’re supposedly trying to call young peoples’ attention to the rising cost of a four year education which, they say, denies students access to such useful college-oriented skills like community organizing, modern interpretations of Marxism, binge drinking and live fish-eating. Actually, the last two are probably useful life skills.
Anyway, Obama’s message is clear: college may be necessary, but it just costs too darn much. These students keep taking on all of this debt to pay higher and higher tuition costs, and then they graduate into an economy where three out of every four new jobs is part-time. And something must be done. He’s even purchased a very special $1.1 million dollar bus for the occasion.
The administration’s proposal? A rating system that lets you know if you’re getting your – or, for that matter, the government‘s – money’s worth.
According to Obama administration estimates, average tuition costs at four-year public colleges have more than tripled over the last three decades. The average student loan borrower also graduates with over $26,000 in debt.
The president will also propose legislation to give colleges a “bonus” based on the number of students they graduate who received Pell Grants. The goal is to encourage colleges to enroll and graduate low- and moderate-income students.
The administration will also seek to require colleges with high dropout rates to disburse student aid over the course of the semester as students face expenses, rather than in a lump sum. The aim is to prevent wasting grant money by ensuring that students who drop out do not receive funds for time they are not in school.
Obama is also renewing his call for a $1 billion college “Race to the Top” competition that would reward states that make significant changes in higher education policies while also containing tuition costs.
The easiest way, of course, to curb the increase in tuition rates, would be to curb the amount of money students can take out to pay for their degrees. The easiest way to help students handle education debt would be to call off the Department of Education collection dogs and allow students who face hardships to discharge or reconfigure their loans. But common sense tweaks don’t enter into the government’s student debt solution, mainly because, as Matt Taibbi pointed out just this month in Rolling Stone, student debt is a cash cow, both for universities and for the government – and Obama’s proposals have just made that cash cow bigger.
Universities raise tuition to attract more government funding through the government’s subsidized student lending program (which, Obama suggests, isn’t wide enough): the more college costs, the more money they get in student tuition, and now that student loans are almost exclusively the purview of government lenders, there’s almost no limit to how much they can ask for and receive. The problem, of course, is that students eventually have to pay back those loans, but the government has themselves covered. Student loan repayments are among the largest revenue sources to the government, pulling in more profits for Uncle Sam per year than the average take of an oil company (whose profits liberals are always trying to curb). And the government is the one lender in America who won’t cut it’s borrowers slack, even when kids can’t find a job out of college because their four year degree barely qualifies them for a part-time barista job at Starbucks.
So, the whole system is a mess and these lunatics keep promising more cash to colleges who help more kids take out even more loans. Which, of course, solves the problem. Or something.