Thursday, August 09, 2007

Funding Higher Ed

I have an editorial in this week's Nation (I don't know why it's behind a paywall, but here's the lede):

When Congress passed bills overhauling federal student aid in mid-July, the rhetoric flew high. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called them "the single largest increase in college aid since the GI Bill." But the GI Bill radically transformed college from an elite bastion to a middle-class aspiration, while these long-delayed reforms merely regain some lost ground. Certain provisions in these bills could fundamentally change the way society shares the burden of college costs, but upholding the vision of a true meritocracy will require broader reorganization of student loans and even changes in the way colleges are run.

The bills contain $17 billion to $18 billion in new aid. The need-based Pell grant will increase 25 percent over five years; interest rate reductions and loan forgiveness will make loans more affordable. These benefits are paid for by $19 billion in subsidy cuts to the student lending industry. (Differences in the Senate and House versions have yet to be reconciled; a Bush veto threat looks shaky considering the Senate's 78-to-18 margin.)

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