Phi Beta Cons

Capitol Hill Attacks the High Cost of College

IHE has a story on the enormous bill (747 pages — who could ever read and carefully analyze something like that?) to extend the Higher Ed Act.
As you’d expect, there is a lot of grandstanding and silliness here, such as a provision dictating that colleges “craft plans for giving their students legal ways to download movies and music.”
The big thing, though, is the federal government’s attempts at controlling costs. The Constitution gives Congress no power to do anything regarding higher education, but constitutional limits on federal power were long ago swept away.
Representative Hinojosa, who chairs the House postsecondary education committee says, “Access to college has been pushed further out of reach for far too many Americans because costs have spiraled out of control.” What I’d like to know is whether that statement is true, or just good political rhetoric. Is there evidence that any substantial number of young American high school graduates with good or at least acceptable academic backgrounds and want to go to college are unable to attend even the low-cost options that exist?
Back in 2003, Jay Greene and Marcus Winters of Manhattan Institute published a paper in which they reported that the number of college-ready students who didn’t go on to some postsecondary education was very small.

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


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