Hillary Clintons free college plan is long on promises but short on specifics - like wholl pay for it.
Maybe the Clinton Foundation could foot the bill. After all, it received at least $500,000 from Arizona State University, not to mention tens of millions more from 180 other donors who lobbied the State Department when Clinton was in charge. If theres one thing the Clintons understand, its how to generate free cash.
But not even the Clinton Foundation, with nearly $333 million in reported net assets, could afford Clintons college give-away, which she projects will cost $350 billion over the next 10 years.
Under the plan, officially dubbed the New College Compact, in-state tuition at public two-year and four-year colleges and universities would be free for students whose families earn $125,000 or less annually, roughly 80 percent of all American families.
The remaining 20 percent of American families, the supposed rich under Clintons plan, would foot the bill.
Additional tax funds, interest rate cuts, repayment caps and loan forgiveness schemes would be used to make college a virtually debt-free experience.
The projected cost of Clintons higher education free-for-all is bad enough. But it is probably just a down payment.
In reality, the plan doesnt come close to covering public tuition and fees, which now total more than $70 billion annually - twice the projected yearly cost of Clintons plan. Nor would it fix the staggering student loan debt problem, which currently exceeds $1.3 trillion.
One of the worst elements of the plan is that college degrees will become about as meaningless as free high school diplomas.
Some 75 percent of U.S. high school graduates are not deemed college-ready in English, reading, math and science.
Many of those who go on to college have to enroll in remedial classes, increasing the likelihood theyll drop out. The proposed Clinton subsidies will encourage more of the same.
If the past six decades have taught us anything, its that we cant subsidize our way to college affordability, much less quality. The federal governments reach into education has grown steadily since 1958, and with it, college costs that have increased at about twice the general inflation rate.
Thats because federal subsidies allow colleges and universities to increase prices with impunity. For all of Washingtons finger-wagging, few politicians are going to support withholding - much less cutting - federal aid. And colleges know it.
Perhaps the greatest cost of all to Clintons free college plan is nurturing the notion that a college degree is an entitlement, not something earned.
At most public colleges and universities, the majority of undergraduates already receive financial aid. And what are taxpayers getting for their investment?
- In the past year or so alone, students at the University of California at San Diego had time for a topless Free the Nipple rally.
- California Polytechnic State University students organized a three-day Shit In to promote gender-neutral bathrooms.
- Students at the University of Texas at Austin traded in their longhorns for sex toys to protest a new campus carry law.
Such activities are taking place on campuses nationwide, largely on the taxpayers dime, at a time when an alarming majority of professors report their first-year college students cant distinguish between fact and opinion, and at least 20 percent of undergraduates wont complete their four-year degrees in six years.
With federal debt quickly approaching $20 trillion, Clintons proposed give-away is something our country cant afford.
Yet the full cost of the Clinton plan cant be measured entirely in dollars and cents.
Indeed, the full cost is incalculable because Clinton is trying to satisfy an insatiable appetite for entitlements that feeds off the hard work and sacrifice of others and is constantly demanding more.
|Vicki E. Alger is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the book Failure: The Federal "Misedukation" of Americas Children.|
Education policy has long been mired in controversies, often with opposing sides missing the mark. Failure helps us step back from the skirmish du jour and redirects our focus to the big picture, showing us whats gone wrong over the decades and the institutional causes of these failures. It also offers a bold blueprint for returning the federal government to its constitutional role and for cultivating an educational system that meets the needs of students and parents, rather than bureaucrats.