Gingrich’s Hypocritical (and Impractical) Plan to Pay for College

Newt Gingrich apparently thinks the solution to the high cost of college is for students to work harder. Newt the actual student, however, didn’t think employment was appropriate.

According to an article by Karen Tumulty in the Washington Post:

Asked about the high cost of college, Gingrich said that today’s students are being coddled, with luxury dorms and lavish extras, such as lobster nights in their dining halls. And he praised institutions such as the University of the Ozarks, which incorporate work into their financial aid programs.

“Students take fewer classes per semester. They take more years to get through. Why? Because they have free money,” Gingrich said. “I would tell students: ‘Get through as quick as you can. Borrow as little as you can. Have a part-time job.’ But that’s very different from the culture that has grown up in the last 20 years.”

Gingrich is, I’m forced to admit, probably right about the lavish dorms (though he’s wrong about the courses per semester; it’s only that there are now more part-time students enrolled) but he seems oddly interested in forcing today’s students to get part-time jobs (about 57 percent of them already have them).

According to a 1995 piece in Vanity Fair by Gail Sheehy:

During his college years, Newt called up his father and stepmother to ask for financial help. His stepmother, Marcella McPherson, can still hear his exact words: “I do not want to go to work. I want all my time for my studies….

Dolores Adamson, Gingrich’s district administrator from 1978 to 1983, remembers, “Jackie put him all the way through school. All the way through the PhD…. He didn’t work.”

That part-time job “plan” also wouldn’t actually cover the cost of college. The total cost of a year at Emory University, his alma mater, is now $55,992. One would have to be quite a bartender to cover college through a part-time job.

Gingrich divorced his (rather generous) first wife in 1980.

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