Paying for Colorado’s Public Colleges

People involved in public higher education across the country have talked about the need for a new public education funding model.

The candidates for governor of Colorado are apparently also trying to come up with new funding models for the state. According to an article by Kevin Duggan in The Coloradoan:

Higher education in Colorado needs new sources of funding if it is to survive during times of uncertainty in the state budget, the three candidates for governor said Friday.

Speaking to business and government leaders from across Northeast Colorado, Democrat John Hickenlooper, Republican Dan Maes and American Constitutional Party candidate Tom Tancredo said the state should consider new models for funding and delivering education.

Sadly for the people of Colorado, all of the new models proposed are terrible.

Tancredo seems to believe that traditional education is impractical. He proposes more distance-based higher education, calling it “especially promising.” It’s not. In fact it tends to be of lower quality than regular education. It generally doesn’t save money, either.

Maes believes that “shrinking the size of the state government would free up revenue for education, he said, as would reducing regulation and taxation on businesses. That would lead to more job creation and a broader tax base.” Even if such an optimistic form of trickle-down economics worked, which it doesn’t, there is little reason to think all of this new money would be recycled into Colorado’s public colleges.

Denver Mayor Hickenlooper, however, said that college “officials should work with philanthropists and private businesses to generate college scholarship money for students in grades K through 12.” These additional private scholarships would motivate more people to apply to Colorado’s public colleges and, thus, “colleges would have a broader base of student to choose from and could charge higher tuition to cover their costs.”

Wait, what?

This, raising tuition and attempting to lure more students to apply through privately generated scholarships, is not actually a new model. That’s the existing, unsuccessful, model.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer