If this is how reauthorization of the Higher Education Act is going to go, Congress shouldn’t even bother. If, as the tone seemed to be set in House and Senate hearings yesterday, Congress won’t seriously consider even the possibility that federal student aid helps to fuel tuition inflation – much less make policy based on the massive logic and evidence backing that concern – then they might as well just quit on the HEA. And if they will accept the swiss cheese explanation that cuts in state funding drive inflation – despite its inability to explain inflation in private institutions, and public schools raising tuition about two dollars for every dollar in lost funding – then they simply aren’t serious about dealing with the crippling unintended consequences of federal “help.”
In the face of ballooning student debt and long-skyrocketing college prices, we don’t need Congressional ostriches jamming their heads in the sand anymore, pretending that their generosity with other people’s money is the solution, not the problem. Either deal with reality, or don’t bother with the HEA.