Funding Higher Ed

In the past, I have posted about a column proposing that colleges no longer receive funding directly through the government, but that money be given directly to students to purchase educations and about the state of Colorado’s attempts to do just that. While I’m sure there are still many, many hurdles left, it appears that this may be an idea which has a chance of catching on. On the Phi Beta Con blog over at the National Review Online, Candace de Russy reports that in a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the President of Miami University proposes privatizing public schools and providing government funding directly to students as a way of addressing “the deep structural problems in public universities.” Ms. de Russy also reports on a similaproposalal by a member of the secretary of education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education. All in all, I think this is a good idea. However, my one concern is that it might be easier for the government to cut funding to individuals or put onerous income qualifications on funding, which would be counter-productive. I’m not generally a big one for government programs, but after WWII and pretty well through the 70’s and early 80’s, government funding of colleges (particularly through student aid programs) played an important role in the rise of a strong American middle class and opportunities for economic mobility. I think that proposals to give students control over the spending of government support of college educations would put market accountability into our crumbling higher education regime as well as allow the government to play a positive role in supporting economic mobility and the strong middle class which our country depends on. Perhaps it’s time to start agitating for these ideas before the forces that be on college campuses catch wind of this and snuff it out before it can get going.

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