The Corner

Education

Biden’s Higher Ed Opportunity

President Joe Biden signs executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., January 20, 2021. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

Everyone expects Joe Biden to behave just like faithful leftists have for decades and double down on the wasteful higher ed policies that have made it so staggeringly costly. But what if he (or someone in the administration) got some different ideas?

In today’s Martin Center article, Ross Marchand contemplates those prospects.

So far, the outlook isn’t promising. Biden has moved to extend student-loan deferrals. Marchand writes, “Deferrals will be one small part of a larger strategy to shift higher education costs away from borrowers and toward taxpayers, regardless of cost and consequences. Rather than creating a bank-breaking new strategy to subsidize (predominately) well-off graduates, President Biden should offer low-income students better alternatives to the broken status quo.”

Also on the bad side, Biden has promised widespread loan forgiveness. That, Marchand notes, is a giveaway mostly to wealthy or soon-to-be-wealthy students who went heavily into debt for credentials that will enable them to earn large salaries.

The ratcheting up of credential requirements is one of the unintended consequences of our “college for everyone mania,” and the feds could take steps to counteract that. Marchand continues that Trump issued “an executive order that directed agencies to emphasize skills over credentials, but this executive order may prove difficult to enforce. President Biden should insist on audits to closely examine agency hiring practices and ensure that the right workers—not degrees—are being sorted from the pile. Moving away from credentialism would send an important message to the economy at large and save taxpayer dollars since advanced degrees typically come with higher federal compensation.”

I’d bet a lot against Biden doing anything so sensible as to lower the demand for college credentials, but who knows.

Marchand concludes, “With the right policies, the new administration can show that it values achievement rather than a narrow, outdated model that is surely not for everybody. It’s time to shake up the higher education system and give more options to young Americans trying to better themselves.”

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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