Monday, December 04, 2006

Unorthodox Views of College Financing: Two D.C. Attractions

By Richard Vedder

There are two events this week where unorthodox views on student financial aid, tax treatment of universities, etc., are likely to be expressed. The first will be tomorrow morning, when the Senate Finance Committee is having a hearing relating to tax exemptions. Charles Grassley, the outgoing chair of the committee, has been increasingly concerned about the abuse of tax free status by universities, triggered in part by the massive multi-million dollar golden parachute given to the disgraced former president of American University. Another dimension of all this is the question of college's selling admission slots (effectively) through "development admits," and showing preference for alumni kids. Dan Golden, journalist extraordinaire, is testifying before the committee. I think some prominent Democrats (Senator Kennedy comes to mind) will be sympathetic to some of the same concerns Sen. Grassley has in mind, so this is probably a bipartisan issue that will not die when Congressional control passes to the Democrats. Even an Establishment witness, Jim Duderstadt (a prominent part of the Dudervestky group on the Spellings Commission) former U. of Michigan president, might surprise, as he is far more open and less uncritical of financial aid practices then most other university administrator types. CCAP will be in the audience (Bryan O'Keefe, and Wick Sloane, who did a boffo job with Whiz Kid Jonathan Leirer on a study published as a CCAP Perspective).

Secondly, Thursday morning at 10:30, the Heritage Foundation is having a program on student financial aid programs and public policy moves to expand them. It may expand into a general critique of what is wrong with contemporary higher education. Gene Hickok, former Undersecretary of Education, is moderating. He was a reformist head of Pennsylvania's K-12 system before heading to Washington. The two speakers will be unsympathetic to the status quo in fiancial aid, and include Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale College, and Yours Truly. Hillsdale takes no federal money, nor does its students, and is a better place because of it. (The same could be said of CCAP). For people in the D.C. area wanting to hear heretical, non-conformist ideas about higher education, consider attending one or both of these events.


Anonymous said...

Why don't you take Matt along to hold your beer while you speeak?

Anonymous said...

I'd expect the Heritage plan to be something like having the kid give them whatever he's saved for his education, then he'd volunteer for at least 4 years of military service. Afterwards, he'd check in to see if Heritage's investments had grown enough for him to begin going to college. If not? They'd hook him up with a career path at a company that had not yet revealed its plan to sell the plant to China. Later, if he returned to Heritage, and at no extra charge, they'd read him off a lecture on being more "accountable" for his actions and ask him why he'd not properly prepared himself for a better job and that "The Market" was rewarding him precisely for the value of his productivity and worth. Also, that these days his best shot, lacking family connections or inheritances would be to go to college and get an advanced degree. Jack