Education Cuts, One Way or Another

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC-5th), the new Republican chair of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness, is now letting people know what issues she may focus on as she runs her committee. She seems to indicate that she’s eager to cut spending, kind of.

According to an article by Eric Kelderman in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Foxx… said on Tuesday that one of her priorities for higher education in the new session of Congress would be to question the amount and scope of regulation that the U.S. Education Department applies to colleges, in particular the proposed “gainful employment” rule that could have a major impact on the nation’s for-profit institutions.

She also repeated earlier comments that the Pell Grant program, which provides college scholarships for low-income students, would not be exempt from Republican proposals to slash the federal budget.

Such proposals are not really so surprising coming from Republicans but why not go the other way? How about saving money by “slashing” funding for for-profit colleges?

If Foxx is so eager to cut spending and go ahead and hack away at Pell, the poor be damned, why not just eliminate all that federal funding that goes to for-profit colleges? Consider doing that first.

Currently, about $26.5 billion in federal aid (Pell Grants and Stafford Loans) goes to students at for-profit colleges. That’s almost 25 percent of all federal student aid, even though proprietary schools enroll a mere 7 percent of American college students.

For-profit schools receive most of their income from federal aid.

It’s the exploitation of the federal trough that allows education company stockholders and executives to make profit. It’s legal and it’s long accepted as appropriate but, frankly, cutting off this money would save more than slight cuts to Pell.

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