recent college graduate knows that it is impossible
to go to school without government funds!"
words summarize the views of college students heard in several recent
interactions related to a decision by Gov. Jennifer Granholm to eliminate the
$140 million state "Promise Scholarship" as a budget-cutting measure.
program was the latest version of one created by Gov. John Engler in 1997 using
revenue from the tobacco lawsuit settlement. The program awarded $4,000 to high
school students who achieve a proficient score on the Michigan Merit Exam and
then maintain a 2.5 GPA in their first two years at a Michigan college. Needless to say, the outcry was swift. (It's basically
summarized as follows: "Gov. Granholm hates children").
these college students right? Is it impossible for young people from middle
class families to attend college without government money? It's not easy, but
several examples demonstrate that it is not impossible.
example Grove City College in Pennsylvania (my alma mater, in the spirit of
full disclosure) and Michigan's own Hillsdale College are two schools that
accept no government financial aid whatsoever. In fact, students who attend
them are not allowed to even get student loans from the state or federal
governments, because doing so would subject the schools to a plethora of
regulations and mandates to which they object. Instead, the schools provide
private loans to students through a partnership with a private bank. Despite
the lack of government backing, GCC's combined annual tuition and room and
board is under $20,000 — relatively modest by current (inflated) standards, and
average tuitions at both schools have risen much more slowly than the vast
majority of state universities.
have shown that government increases in government
higher education funding and aid paradoxically often lead to increases in costs
charged to students. Michael Van Beek, our director of education policy, explains regarding the scholarship, "It is no coincidence that, as
these tuition assistance programs have grown over the last decade, tuition
costs have skyrocketed."
many middle-class and lower income students need aid to school, but the two
private colleges discussed here meet this need through private funding.
is unlikely that government funding will be cut out of higher education anytime
soon, which means the cost will likely continue to increase well beyond the rate of
more of that funding should be directed towards economics classes.
Jarrett Skorup is the
research associate for online engagement for Michigan Capitol
at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute
headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is
hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited.