Five Ideas for Higher Ed Reform—in Forbes


Writing for Forbes, Preston Cooper, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute who specializes in the economics of higher education offers “Five Higher Education Reform Ideas For The New Congress.” I have tried to select the key point of elaboration on each item:

  1. Put a Cap on Federal Student Loans: There is a role for the government in helping students pay for college, but that role should be finite.
  1. Crack Down on Excessive Subsidy Reliance: Speaking of limiting the government’s role in higher education, the new Congress should also take on colleges which rely too heavily on federal student aid programs.
  1. Accreditation Reform: Many [accreditors have serious conflicts of interest and others have failed to identify and sanction poorly-performing schools.
  1. Rein in Regulatory Overreach: The Obama Education Department has promulgated many major regulations, [which] . . . have been coupled with many smaller regulations . . . to wage culture wars.
  1. Reform Student Loan Repayment: While so-called “income-driven repayment” is a good idea in principle, the current system grants large borrowers excessive amounts of loan forgiveness.

The first and the fifth items will “solve” the problem of ballooning student-loan debt by reducing access, affordability, and degree completions, which, now that most states link their declining subsidies to outcomes, will almost certainly exacerbate the funding issues at public colleges and universities. In fact, the second item includes the suggestion that federal monies be increasingly tied to outcomes; so, those funding issues will likely be compounded.

The second item seems unlikely to get much traction, given DeVos’ ardent support of K-12 corporate education and Trump’s own issues with his “University.”

And although the third and fifth items do focus on problem areas, I suspect that one set of regulatory problems and one sort of “culture war” will simply be replaced by their opposite numbers.

Cooper’s complete article is available at:


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