December 5, 2006 3:48PM

The Risible Hand to Meddle further in NY Higher Ed?

Newsday reports that the visible — and clumsy — hand of government is poised to interfere in NY’s burgeoning for‐​profit higher ed. market. But the Board of Regents’ impending move to impose strict new regulations on for‐​profit colleges is the wrong solution to the wrong problem.

If students at these colleges were paying their own way, the state would have no compelling interest in regulating them. The only reason the state presumes to interfere is that funding from New York’s Tuition Assistance Program goes to these schools, and it wants more oversight over how that money is spent. Rather than impeding market forces and freedoms by trying to inject central planning into a promising and dynamic part of the higher education sector, New York should replace its current Tuition Assistance program with a system known as “human capital contracts” or “equity loans,” in which the amount paid back by students subsequent to graduation is contingent on their earnings. These loans allow students to finance their own higher education, eliminating the need for the state to intrude in the market process. It’s a better, cleaner solution.