House Committee on College Cost Cutting

Apparently taking up Arne Duncan’s vague challenge to colleges to contain costs, the House subcommittee on higher-education policy met recently to talk about cost containment in higher education. This discussion will not reduce the cost of college at all.

According to an article by Collin Eaton in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

At a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives’ subcommittee on higher-education policy, Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican of North Carolina, said that President Obama’s recent expansion of loan forgiveness wasn’t a long-term solution for the growing cost of higher education, and that colleges had to find new ways to become more affordable.

“In the current system, there’s little incentive to enact lasting change,” said Ms. Foxx, the panel’s chair. “States, students, and parents must demand accountability for the investment” by taxpayers, and “not depend solely on the federal government,” she said.

Foxx is right (though it doesn’t appear loan forgiveness was ever presented as an effort to contain college costs) but “demanding accountability” isn’t going to make college any cheaper either.

According to the article, the participants at the hearing discussed colleges “offering full-tuition scholarships to high-achieving students,” “offering a three-year degree,” and “measuring the quality of higher education through student learning.”

Each of these things (except for the last proposal) might help individual people pay less money to attend certain colleges, but none of these reforms address the structural nature of the problem, which is that colleges have little incentive to make schools cheaper for students.

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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