Bill to Penalize High Tuition at the Cost of Financial Aid Funding

Representative Howard McKeon (R-CA) introduced a bill last week in the House concerning the escalating costs of college tuition that threatens middle and low-income students most in need of financial aid. The proposal would put hundreds of the nation’s universities that have raised tuition more than twice the rate of inflation for three years in a row on a watch list. Eventually, these schools could loose eligibility for millions of dollars in programs that often go to work study programs, loans, and various types of student grants, according to the New York Times.

Some fear that although the intent of the bill is to bring down the costs of higher education, the bill creates a policy that would make college less affordable for those in low- and middle-income groups. Kate Rube, a higher education lobbyist for the California Public Interest Research Group, told the Los Angeles Times that “we definitely need Congress to address the issue of college tuitions that are out of reach for some students, but penalizing students isn’t the way to do it.” According to David Ward, the president of the American Council on Education, in an attempt to comply with federal standards for keeping down tuition costs while offsetting cuts in state support resulting from state revenue shortfalls, the bill would “force college and university leaders and boards to choose” either making “low- and – middle income students ineligible for federal student aid,” or accepting “a decline in the quality of education.

In a study published by the American Association of University Women, women who entered the job market immediately after high school are more likely to cite a lack of financial resources as a barrier to postsecondary education. Under Congressman McKeon’s proposed bill, financial aid availability would diminish for all students, creating an even bigger financial obstacle for both women and men to attend college.

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Los Angeles Times 10/16/03; American Council on Education 6/21/99, 10/16/03, 4/11/03; New York Times 10/17/03

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