What’s Next for Higher Education?
by Daniel Luzer
With President Barack Obama’s reelection, colleges now have some idea what’s going to happen in coming years. Mostly it looks like existing policies will continue. But will Obama try to do anything about tuition?
According to an article by Michael Stratford in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
A re-elected President Obama will most likely continue to sidestep a bitterly divided Congress and seek to change education policy through his own executive and regulatory authority, higher-education advocates said.
Some of the administration’s executive action has been relatively uncontroversial. The president signed an executive order aimed at strengthening consumer protections for student veterans, for instance. More recently, the administration used a regulatory maneuver to speed up the start of the more generous repayment program for borrowers of federal loans. Other executive action has been more fraught. For-profit colleges have protested the regulatory scrutiny they’ve received from the Department of Education, while traditional institutions have also expressed concern over what they view as unnecessary and burdensome requirements.
But basically, there’s no change there, only more of the same policy, only possibly expanded.
What a lot of colleges are wondering about, however, has to do with tuition. Obama has talked a great deal about high tuition, but done little to try to bring it down so far. Stratford:
One unanswered question going into Mr. Obama’s second term is how—and with how much gusto—his administration will forge ahead with the president’s stated goal of reducing by half the rate of tuition growth over the next decade. Mr. Obama said in this year’s State of the Union address and in a later speech at the University of Michigan that he wanted to tie some federal aid to an institution’s ability to slow the growth of tuition.
Some higher-education advocates said it was unclear how much of the president’s plan for cutting tuition growth was political rhetoric and how much would translate into actual policy proposals. The administration has not laid out the specifics of how it would go about achieving its goal.
Nor is it likely to release specifics in the near future.
We may, in fact, have to wait until the State of the Union speech in January before we know if the second term Obama administration is really going to do anything to cut tuition growth through financial aid policies (or potentially some other policy vehicle).