Phi Beta Cons

Endowment Defender

Todd Buchholz makes a case for letting universities hoard their endowments, against a potential plan in Congress that would force them to spend more:

Here’s my reform plan: First, senators should mind their own business. What credibility do they have on long-term savings? Last I looked, Social Security is not in a lockbox but in the outhouse. Second, colleges should speed up the trend of turning loans into grants. A French or art history major buried under a $200,000 debt might as well be reading Sartre’s “No Exit” and admiring Munch’s “Scream.” Bono and U.S. Treasury secretaries made a similar argument on behalf of Africa–and Ghana probably has a better football team than Columbia. Third, universities should use their bulging endowments to create room for more undergraduates. Princeton has adopted a multiyear plan to expand its class by 11% but will still turn away baskets of applications from students with perfect SAT scores.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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