Free college for YOU! And YOU! And YOU! And …

BarryO has decided he wants to give everybody a free ride through community college. Heck. His radical overhaul of healthcare has worked *so well.*  Why not meddle here?

Our senior senator, the honorable Richard Burr, has tossed in our his two cents on the matter:

[…] “If the President has found the billions of dollars in new money that would be required for this latest idea, r-RICHARD-BURR-DADT-large570I’d prefer we use it to shore up Pell Grant’s finances so that assistance is available for years to come for North Carolina’s neediest students. Pell Grants provide students with maximum choice in post-secondary options from all sectors of higher education, including community colleges. This new proposal from the Obama Administration favors one sector of higher education over others when, as we all know, there are so many other options available that might best suit a student’s needs. Rather than committing to new programs that will carry substantial new costs, I believe we should be ensuring our existing promises to college students are kept and made sustainable for generations to come through commonsense reforms like the FAST Act and, legislation I’ve introduced with Senator King, the Repay Act.” […] 

Hmmm.  Pell grants Talk about a charlie foxtrot.  Here’s Heritage’s take on Pell grants and DC’s plans for the future of that program:

[…]The Obama Administration and some Members of Congress argue that another $5.7 billion is needed in order to avoid a funding shortfall and a reduction in the maximum grant award of 15 percent. But continuing to increase federal subsidies for higher education through the Pell grant program would not solve the college cost problem and could exacerbate inefficiencies and tuition hikes at universities.[…]Pell grants, which do not have to be repaid by students, are currently funded at historically high levels. Funded at $32 billion for the 2010–2011 school year, the program includes $15.6 billion in new appropriations provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Moreover, new student loan legislation passed as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 included $13.5 billion in mandatory Pell funding through 2012.

New funding for the Pell program is part of a long history of increases in federal subsidies for higher education. Pell grant funding has nearly doubled in the past two years, and since 1980, Pell grant funding has increased 475 percent, after adjusting for inflation.oprah

The Obama Administration would like to continue building on decades of increases in Pell funding in the coming years. The President’s FY 2011 Budget request calls for mandatory outlays for federal Pell grants to exceed $51 billion by the year 2020.

Again — we have NO money.  Everything that gets “spent” by the feds is borrowed.  BORROWED.  Increased spending IS debt that you are passing on to your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. MORE: 

Meanwhile, college tuition has risen significantly. Since 1982, the cost of attending college has increased 439 percent, more than four times the rate of inflation. Increases in college costs exceed increases in health care costs, which have risen more than 250 percent over the same time period.[2]

Federal funding is contributing to this exorbitant increase in college costs. Economist Richard Vedder argues that “some of these financial aid programs have contributed mightily to the explosion in tuition and fees in modern times.”[3] Moreover, Vedder notes:

When someone else is paying the bills, people want to buy more of the good or service in question at prevailing prices than when the customer pays the bills. This means a higher demand for higher education, and other things being equal, higher tuition costs. … Each one dollar in grant aid leads to tuition fees somewhere around 35 cents higher than would otherwise be the case. Just as third-party payments in medicine have led to escalating health care costs, so increased student financial payments have contributed to soaring tuition costs.[4]

[…]Over the past few decades, a vicious cycle has been perpetuated by federal education policy: The Department of Education increases subsidies for college, inflating students’ purchasing power, in turn allowing universities to raise tuition, which ultimately increases the demand for more government subsidies.

Not only would an increase in Pell funding not break this vicious cycle, but it would also fail to place pressure on universities to use resources more efficiently. Andrew Gillen, an expert in higher education financing, has dubbed the dysfunctional higher education market an “arms race” where vast resources are targeted toward non-academic purposes such as athletics, building renovations, and administrative overhead costs in order to compete for students.[6][…]momoney

Like the author of this piece, I have racked up some time teaching in community colleges.  I also agree completely with his take on the “free” college meme. Having Skin-In-The-Game is crucial.  Homeowners tend to take better care of their residences than renters do.  It makes a difference if YOU are on the hook for the bill.

Heritage was recommending that government money go directly to students instead of to the colleges themselves.  I think that would make things worse.  At one school where I teach, they have a monstrous problem with financial aid fraud.  People are registering for the maximum load of classes and adhering to the minimum attendance requirements.  After they start getting their checks, they vanish from campus.  

I paid my own way through grad school. I’ll have to admit I took that experience much more seriously than I did my undergrad studies paid for by my parents.  After all, the money was coming out of MY pocket. 

Want to seriously help out higher education?  Work on getting the costs of providing said education DOWN.   Let’s also get away from grants and restructure the system so students and prospective students actually have some skin in the game.

Politicians LOVE to win the love and admiration of voters by giving away other people’s money.  Continuing to travel down that road is going to further imperil the survival of our republic.