Throughout the 2016 Presidential election, attention has focused on higher education with specific focus on its cost. While FHSU continues to pride itself on our accessible tuition, across the United States higher education institutions are seeing their costs skyrocket. As a result, access is limited and among those who can pursue higher education their debt loads are concomitantly rising.
During the Democratic primary season Vermont Senator Bernard “Bernie” Sanders promoted an idea to have the federal government pay all tuition for all community- and four-year college students across the country. Eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s plan called for providing free tuition to children of families making less than $125,000 a year.
New research from the Brookings Institution suggests a different approach to college affordable: subsidize the colleges, not the tuition.
A less-discussed alternative to free college is to invest directly in colleges, especially those that serve low-income students, with the goal of increasing quality rather than only reducing price. Spending at many historically under-resourced institutions has been largely flat in recent years, despite increases in tuition driven by declining state support.
Since declining state support is the primary driver for tuition increases over the last two decades, subsidizing the operational costs of universities and community colleges may be a solution. But every time a level of government provides money, it adds expectations. Would the additional federal layer of compliance and complexity be worth the additional money?