Washington Post Ignores Other Causes of Higher Education Tuition Bubble
Covering Vice President Biden’s “Middle Class Task Force” meeting in the Washington Post, reporter Michael Fletcher rightly points out the problem that ever-rising college costs are creating for middle class families:
Pointing out that the cost of a four-year college education has more than doubled in the same time that middle class incomes have crept up by just 10 percent, Biden said that an unprecedented effort is being mounted to address the growing gap…”This is something we are genuinely, genuinely committed to changing.”
The Post story then reviews the Obama administration’s plans to expand and reform federal subsidy programs for college students, which Vice President Biden called: “This is the largest investment in education since the G.I. Bill.”
Unfortunately, Mr. Fletcher fails to offer any context or even consider whether the administration’s plans for an unprecedented “investment” are likely to solve the problem of college affordability.
Experience has shown that years of federal spending increases on higher education haven’t solved the problem of college affordability. For example, in 2007, the federal government spent more than $86 billion on student aid for postsecondary education—a real increase of more than 70 percent over what was spent ten years earlier. Yet college costs have rising almost as quickly over the past decade—with the annual cost at 4-year private and public colleges have risen by 29 percent and 41 percent respectively. Experts like Dr. Richard Vedder have argued that increasing federal subsidies, or increasing third-party payments, are actually cause of the growth in higher education costs.
Readers would be better informed about the true nature of this problem if the Post’s news story at least considered other perspectives, instead of simply repeating the White House’s narrative.