Obama Fosters the Skyrocketing Tuition He Criticized

Cross-posted from Open Market.

In his State of the Union Address, President Obama decried
skyrocketing college tuition
, attempting to take advantage of public anger over the steadily-worsening college tuition bubble.
This was ironic, since his own Administration has done much to foster rising college tuitions.

For example, it imposed the 90-10 rule, which forced low-cost educational institutions to raise their tuition to comply with a new federal regulation requiring them to charge
enough over federal financial aid so that at least 10 percent of education costs don’t come from financial aid.  For example, Corinthian College had diploma programs in health care and other fields that can be completed in a year or less.  Until 2011, many of those programs had a total cost of about $15,000, which meant that federal grants and loans could cover nearly 100 percent of their cost.  In response to the Education Department’s rule, the college raised
tuition
to comply with the 90/10 rule.  The net result of the Obama Education Department’s rule was to “create a perverse, no-win ‘Catch-22’ that could prevent low-income students from attending college,” by encouraging such colleges to raise tuition to outstrip rising financial aid by more than ten percent.  Administration allies like Senator
Richard Durbin (D-IL) are now pushing a new rule, the 85-15 rule, that would require low-cost institutions to further raise tuition so that at least 15 percent of education costs aren’t covered by financial aid.  (With this kind of mentality, it is no wonder that college graduation rates have actually “fallen
somewhat
since the 1970s” “among poor and working-class students”).

As George Leef of the Pope Center for Higher Education
Policy notes, “Obama’s talk about getting tough with colleges over tuition is pure political blather.  One reason costs keep going up, thus necessitating tuition increases,
is that schools keep adding administrative positions like Chief Diversity
Officer. College spending is responsible for the jobs of a great many of
Obama’s most zealous supporters. It’s easy to demagogue college costs, but this
is nothing more than theatrics.”  There are now more college administrators
than faculty
at California State University, and colleges, partly to comply
with
bureaucratic mandates, are creating
new positions
for liberal bureaucrats even as they raise student
tuition to record levels:

The University of California at San Diego, for example, is creating
a new full-time “vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion.” This
position would augment UC San Diego’s already massive diversity apparatus,
which includes the Chancellor’s Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor
for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty
equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity
liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student
diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for
diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity,
the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee
on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion,
the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women’s Center.

Other colleges raised spending on administrators as much as 600
percent
in recent years.

As a result of increasing federal financial aid, colleges
have been able to increase tuition faster than inflation, year after year,
secure in the knowledge that they can rake in ever-rising government subsidies and skyrocketing
tuition.  College students are learning less
and less
even as higher education spending explodes.

Students have little choice but to pay inflated tuition
bills into the education industrial-complex, as they vie with each other for
scarce entry-level jobs by acquiring ever more degrees that show their ability
to jump through hoops and master difficult (but largely useless)
skills.  The net result is an educational arms race in which people compete to
see who can acquire the most paper credentials.  There are now 8,000
waiters
and 5,057
janitors
with PhD’s
or other advanced degrees, and millions of Americans have useless
college degrees.

Obama’s State of the Union Address also contained false
claims about outsourcing and corporate taxes
, as well as a misguided proposal
that could undermine
discipline and order
in inner-city schools that have high drop-out rates,
and another proposal that could shrink
Americans’ 401(k)s and increase the cost
of mortgage financing in the future.

The Education Department recently made college officials’
lives more difficult by trying to alter
the burden of proof
long used by many colleges in sexual harassment cases
(despite the lack
of any legal basis for doing so), and by seeking to discourage
procedures
such as cross-examination that safeguard accuracy and due
process in campus disciplinary proceedings.

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader is a senior attorney at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

3 thoughts on “Obama Fosters the Skyrocketing Tuition He Criticized

  1. University of California Berkeley voices his reasons for recommending an immediate increase to instate tuition. University of California Berkeley (UCB) Chancellor Robert J Birgeneau is outspoken on why elite public universities should charge more. With Birgeneau’s leadership flagship UCB is more expensive (on an all-in-cost) than private Harvard and Yale. Cal. is the most expensive public higher education in our country!
    Birgeneau ($450,000 salary) likes to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving him every dollar expected. The Chancellor’s ‘charge more’ instate tuition skyrocketed fees by an average 14% per year from 2006 to 2011-12 academic year. If Birgeneau had allowed fees to rise at the same rate of inflation over the past 10 years they would still be in reach of most middle income students. Increasing funding is not Cal’s solution.
    UCB is a public universities created to maximize access to the widest number of instate students at a reasonable cost: mission of diversity and equality of opportunity. Unfortunately Birgeneau’s ‘charge more’ instate tuition diminishes the equality and inclusion principles which underlie our state and country. Birgeneau’s and Provost George Breslauer’s ($306,000 salary) ‘charge more’ instate tuition policy denies middle income Californians the transformative value of university education.
    Chancellor Birgeneau’s tenure is a sad unacceptable legacy. University of California Berkeley is now farther and farther out of reach for the sons and daughters of Californians.
    Send your opinion: UC Board of Regents marsha.kelman@ucop.edu and your Calif. State Senator and Assembly member.

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