Tuition and Transparency

Kali Jerrard

CounterCurrent: Week of 01/29/2024

Higher education is rife with problems. Thankfully solutions are abundant to right the wrongs and steer academia back to the pursuit of truth and excellence.

Many of the plans fall short—case in point, Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. But others are promising, such as the most recent solution proposed by the Republican led House Committee for Education and the Workforce. The College Cost Reduction Act or CCRA, intends to provide transparency and accountability in higher education. And so far, it seems to be a solid piece of legislation.

Andrew Gillen, writing for Minding the Campus, breaks down the CCRA. Though Gillen has mixed feelings about the bill, he helpfully presents an overview of what it would change—specifically requiring more transparency, financial aid reform, deregulation, and accountability. The first aspect that catches the eye is that the bill would mandate the standardization of financial aid award letters. “Many colleges engage in borderline fraudulent practices like not distinguishing between grants and loans or not telling students the total cost of attending. The bill would put an end to this,” Gillen explains. 

In addition, the bill would revamp financial aid provided by colleges and universities by replacing Cost of Attendance (CoA) with the Median Cost of College. “Instead of letting each college set its own target, the median cost of college would establish a uniform target by academic field and credential based on the median CoA for that type of program—e.g., a bachelor’s in nursing.” According to Gillen, this would: 

  • “Improve the financial aid application process by better protecting student and parent privacy as well as providing students with information about their aid eligibility earlier than the current system does; 
  • Enhance the competitive landscape, which would improve accountability, encourage cost containment, and lower prices at some colleges; 
  • Neutralize the Bennett hypothesis—increases in aid leading to higher tuition—by severing the link between an increase in tuition and an increase in aid eligibility; 
  • Incentivize colleges to measure and improve quality.”

Ultimately, the CCRA is not perfect, but would be a “dramatic improvement for higher education” if passed, Gillen concludes. For the full analysis, be sure to read the article.

The CCRA could be a step in the right direction to combat tuition price gouging. College tuition rates have skyrocketed over the years, along with administrative bloat and student debt. Is it greedy bureaucrats, bad actors, and erosion of culture and truth contributing to this blight on higher education? Without a doubt. But higher education might need more than one piece of legislation to reform. From state legislatures, Congress, and the judiciary, it will require more than one part of our government to get and sustain the necessary reforms. 

Until next week.

CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’ weekly newsletter, written by the NAS Staff. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.

Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

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