According to the Washington Times, public college and university presidents have been on their toes. Ever since President Obama introduced his tuition cap plan two weeks ago, higher education leaders have strongly voiced their disapproval to the proposed conditions that would risk them losing federal dollars should they not cease to raise their tuition each year. Despite these enormous waves of criticism, however, the Obama administration made another whole hearted attempt on Monday to convince students and university administrators of the benefits that can result from such cost- control measures.
Supporters of the plan including Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, and Education Secretary Anne Duncan, were the leaders of promotional events that occurred in universities in Florida, Massachusetts and Washington D.C. This was a collaborative effort among Democrat politicians to increase support for the idea of cutting federal aid dollars to campuses that continue to increase their tuition costs.
Still Beneficial Even if Not Passed Through Congress
Republicans in the House voiced the greatest amount of disapproval to the tuition cap proposal, with Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Harold Rogers of Kentucky stating that there was hardly any chance of it passing through Congress and becoming law. Political experts claim, however, that the proposal can still be very beneficial to the White House despite the high possibility of it not passing in Congress. It can do political wonders for the Obama administration in restoring faith in college voters. Enthusiasm in college student parents may also rise since they may see this proposal as a genuine attempt to assist middle class families that are struggling to pay for their children’s college education. Universities, who have been continually disgraced for having raised their tuition each year, may just concede to the threat of losing federal funds and do their best to reduce costs without having to be subject to enforcement.
As quoted by the policy director for Education Sector, Kevin Carey, “Sometimes the threat of regulations can work as well as regulations themselves. Colleges might say, ‘We better clean up our own house.’ I think [the administration] will keep talking about it, because this is an issue that resonates with voters. It’s not just for young people. Keep in mind it’s the parents that are paying for college. I think it’s more of a middle-class issue than an age issue.”
Complaints among Republicans and University Leaders
Even when faced with the promotional efforts of the Obama administration, both Republicans and university leaders still have two grievances with the tuition cap plan. Those opposed feel the plan would pave the way for extraordinary federal level intrusion into the higher education sector by enforcing price control when tuition costs have always before been determined by the individual states. Many have also protested to Obama’s initiative to provide colleges and universities with additional funds, through work- study programs and grants and loans for the neediest students, should they keep tuition below a specific maximum, which has yet to be determined.
During a visit on Monday to Florida State University, Vice President Biden dismissed anxieties that the United States in the face of hard economic times could not afford to use more federal dollars for educational spending. Biden stated, “It’s overwhelmingly in the national interest of the United States to get every qualified person to college. It’s simple. The question is not whether we can afford these initiatives. The question is how could we do anything other than push the initiatives.”
Though Mr. Biden admitted that previous efforts such as the Pell Grant program are the main contenders in driving up tuition rates, but he made a strong objection to idea that federal aid should be cut, claiming that millions of students would not be enrolled in college today had it not been for the Pell Grants.