Federal Student Aid as America’s Investment

Cutting federal funding for education is a very, very bad idea now, cautions Worcester Polytechnic Institute President Dennis Berkey. It’s the very worst thing to do now.

As he writes in the Washington Post:

[It would not be possible for low-income students to attend WPI] without federal aid programs. Pell Grants, SEOGs, Perkins Loans, Federal Work Study, Stafford Loans — these terms mean little to people who don’t need them, but they are paramount to our nation’s economic future. They are an investment in the next generation. They are an investment in our country. They are an investment in the human capital needed to restore our economy and our social fabric. But the word out of Washington is that financial aid is not viewed as investment, but as spending.

Cutting aid to low-income students would be a form of eating our own seed corn. These programs contribute mightily to our nation’s bottom line. They create highly skilled workers. They stimulate our economy. They even help create jobs. Clearly, it is time for a reminder as to why these programs are so vital.

Of course, using his logic a good way to get more people though college might be to cut tuition, as a few colleges have done recently. Tuition at WPI is $40,630 a year.

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