Eliminate the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and reduce Work Study
Of course these programs — one provides grants to students, the other funding for student jobs — are unconstitutional, but they are also counterproductive. Like all federal student aid programs, they enable schools to boost prices or redirect other aid, and they incentivize students to think less intensely about whether they should go to college, what they study, and how quickly they finish.
They are not the main culprits — both are quite small relative to other student aid programs — but they are subsidies nonetheless, and starting with small programs is a good way to ease into the bigger cuts we need. It is also difficult to justify giving taxpayer money to students, even in exchange for some sort of work, when the average payoff of graduating from college is around $1 million. At the very least, shouldn’t beneficiaries of aid have to repay taxpayers? The feds offer loans, after all. (Of course, they should be eliminated, too.)
Trim TRIO Programs and GEAR UP
These programs are supposed to help low‐income students prepare for, and access, college. Again, there is no constitutional authority for their existence, and states or civil society could handle the job. But the evidence on the programs’ effectiveness is also pretty poor. As I testified to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, recent official assessments have often used weak research methods, and better ones have found uninspiring effects.
The people who benefit directly from federal programs will no doubt be unhappy with threatened cuts affecting them, and they will likely be featured in news coverage. But for the country, many of these proposed cuts may well be good news.