Higher education overpriced, but policy bans reform – Journal Inquirer | Team Cansler

Connecticut saw yet another indication this week that its public higher education is overpriced. To encourage applicants, the University of Connecticut and three of the four regional state universities — Southern, Western, and Eastern — waived application fees for a day. Central Connecticut State University waived fees for two weeks.

Of course, the savings for applicants were small – UConn’s application fee is $80 and the regional university fee is $50 – and the universities will more than make up for the loss in their tuition. The regional universities increase the tuition fees by 3%.

Meanwhile, courts this week thwarted President Biden’s attempt to use an executive order to grant forgiveness of college student loans. Even the President’s political ally, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, long ago recognized that student loans can only be waived through legislation. All along, the president’s plan appeared to have been little more than a gimmick to support the Democrats in the recent congressional election.

The call for college loan debt relief is essentially a proclamation the excessive cost – the lack of value – of higher education. Because the basic premise behind college loans is that students will be able to repay them through the higher incomes they will earn as a result of their college education. But that doesn’t work for millions of college students, graduates, and college dropouts alike. Their income expectations are disappointed and then their loan obligations crowd out starting a family, home ownership and enjoyment of life in general.

In that spirit, employment agency Zip Recruiter reported this month that its survey of 1,500 job-seeking college graduates found that 44% regret their major, presumably for income reasons. The areas of greatest regret were in the liberal arts. The least regretted were those in science, technology, medicine and business.

Elected officials, trying to pursue the public interest rather than the special interest, could respond by proposing to regulate college loan eligibility and restrict credit terms, prompting colleges to lower rates and to reorganize their course offerings in favor of areas where graduates are most likely to be able to repay their loans.

Instead, the response from elected officials is largely for the government to take on college loan debt and pass it on to taxpayers, including those who paid their way through college or skipped college because of the expense—the suckers!

Why is there such resistance to cutting costs of higher education? For the same reason there is such resistance to lowering costs lower Education even with declining performance.

That means too many people rely on the failing systems for a living and are comfortable with failure.

Most of these people are unionized, politically active, and affiliated with the Democratic Party, circumstances which, particularly in Connecticut, preclude any recognition of the excessive cost of education. But even in the rest of the country, few Republicans want to risk the wrath of the education lobby.

Besides, how many parents want some elected official to tell them that while they’re watching TV or smoking pot, instead of supervising their kids’ homework, elementary school students in Asia have become more educated and capable than high school seniors in the United States?

Last week, the Washington Post railed against elite universities and Yale University in New Haven in particular for allegedly not providing adequate support to students suffering from nervous breakdowns. Schools pressure these students to withdraw and apply for readmission after medical treatment or a semester or two at another institution. Since it’s hard enough getting accepted into an elite school once, students fear their application to return will be spoiled if they withdraw for psychological reasons.

But universities may want to avoid potential financial liability if troubled students kill themselves, as some are doing. Also, if studying at an elite institution is too rigorous for some students, that’s what makes it elite, and no one has to enroll — and maybe some students shouldn’t.

According to Yale, demand for psychological counseling from its students has exploded, reaching 34% versus an average of 11% in higher education in general. Again, this can be a sign of a lack of rigor in lower education.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer. His views are not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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