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.