The Mess of Federal Funds Is Changing the University

The modern American university has changed almost beyond recognition from the form it had even 100 years ago. It is larger, more “diverse,” more of a business, and more industrialized with relatively fewer teachers and more bureaucrats than ever before. Those changes have led to new problems. Higher education, if not broken, is at least … Continue reading “The Mess of Federal Funds Is Changing the University”


Can American Higher Education Be Restored?

People who analyze and write about higher education generally fall into two camps. One camp consists of those who believe that our system is “the envy of the world” and just needs more public support to do its great work of improving our citizens and strengthening our economy. (For a sense of what that camp … Continue reading “Can American Higher Education Be Restored?”


Student Loan Defaults Reveal the True Cost of Student Loans

With the rising number of student loan defaults, the federal government has reaped what it has sown. A government policy to give virtually any student a loan has pushed tens of thousands of them into a financial hole from which they will struggle to escape for years. A new report from The Institute for College … Continue reading “Student Loan Defaults Reveal the True Cost of Student Loans”


Universities Should Invest in Their Students, Not Securities

Nearly all American institutions of higher education raise money they put into endowments—money that is kept invested in securities. At the same time, many of their students borrow money from the federal government so they can afford to attend. As I will explain, this system is fraught with problems. It would be far better if … Continue reading “Universities Should Invest in Their Students, Not Securities”


Parents, Student Loans, and Government: An Unhealthy Mix

Parent PLUS is not typically the loan program making headlines when student loans are in the news. But over the past several years, it has become a central part of America’s higher-education financing system. Under Parent PLUS, parents can borrow freely—with no limit—from the federal government to support their children’s education. Government programs without significant … Continue reading “Parents, Student Loans, and Government: An Unhealthy Mix”


Income Share Agreements Offer a Promising Alternative to Federal Loans

College is expensive. Even in today’s deeply divided political climate, all Americans seem to agree on that. But while most, if not all, Americans agree that student loan debt is a big problem, the proper role of the federal government in distributing loans remains hotly contested. A solution could lie in offering a more attractive … Continue reading “Income Share Agreements Offer a Promising Alternative to Federal Loans”


Answering the Perennial Question: Why Does College Cost So Much?

Last month, Amanda Ripley, writing for The Atlantic, asked a good question: why does higher education in the United States cost significantly more than in every other OECD nation except Luxembourg? Related to that: Why have college costs risen sharply over time? Unfortunately, while the questions Ripley raises are compellingly important, the answers she provided … Continue reading “Answering the Perennial Question: Why Does College Cost So Much?”


The Innovation Dilemma Facing Betsy DeVos

No one can accuse Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of inaction. Just within the past few weeks, her Department of Education announced the overhaul of two major Obama-era regulations. The next stage of DeVos’ agenda will review several of the rules governing which higher education institutions and programs are eligible for federal funding, with an eye … Continue reading “The Innovation Dilemma Facing Betsy DeVos”


PLUS Loans: Subtraction by Addition?

Student loan debt remains a burden for millions of college graduates and dropouts, but the federal government has not yet hit the brakes on its loan engine. Now, it’s becoming a greater problem for parents. A recent analysis by Mark Kantrowitz, a higher education expert who publishes Saving for College and Private Student Loans, noted … Continue reading “PLUS Loans: Subtraction by Addition?”


A Promising Chance at Reform with Congressional Higher Ed Bill

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Higher Education Act into law, inserting the federal government irrevocably into the inner workings of America’s colleges and universities. The bill increased federal money given to universities, provided scholarships, and created the federal student loan system—now a $100 billion yearly enterprise. Since then, the Act has been reauthorized … Continue reading “A Promising Chance at Reform with Congressional Higher Ed Bill”