Thursday, February 7, 2008

Okay, let's make college more affordable!

According to the GW Hatchet, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is proposing legislation that would require more endowment profits from Universities be put toward financial aid. Basically, Senator Grassley would like to mandate that Universities take profits and rather than build new residence halls or raise salaries, the universities put money toward financial aid. In the case of GWU, it would mean that out of their $46 million endowment profit, they would have to give $2.3 million (according to the Hatchet, GWU gave $2 million to financial aid).

Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking minority member of the Senate Finance Committee, has requested endowment data from 136 colleges, including GW, as he prepares for possible legislation to mandate increased financial aid spending at private institutions. Representatives from Grassley's office said they are particularly concerned about into their large tax-free endowments and help make college more affordable for where endowment money is allocated each year for schools with a bankroll of more than $1 billion.

I'm glad that the Senator is trying to help students. The average BA costs $19,000, but there are many students who pay much less and much more.  There are also many students whose parents foot the bill (Senator Grassley is one such parent for his five children).  However, if Senator Grassley (or any other Senator for that matter) wanted to help students lower the cost of college, he would not require that Universities use their own internal profits to pay for financial aid. 

Part of the rising tuition at most universities is to cover the yearly operating costs of the university (everything from paying staff and faculty to making sure students have cable in the their rooms).  If the Senator requires that universities funnel more money into financial aid, that means less tuition income and less operating budget for the university, which ultimately means higher tuition for students not receiving full financial aid. 

I'm all for making college more affordable and giving every single young person in America the opportunity for college.  But if a senator is going to try to tackle the problem, then he should get serious about funding education, not just telling private universities what they must do with their private income. 

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