New Higher Ed Proposals are More of the Same Failed Policies

Gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato has proposed a series of higher education policies aimed at increasing the amount of college grads by 6% in 4 years and improving affordability. All together, the spending would amount to $600 million.

Here are the proposals:

  • Increase grants from PHEAA to low-income college students so that grants would cover the cost of tuition at a PASSHE school in four years. Price tag: $400 million.
  • Double the state funds for community college building projects from $44.5 million to almost $90 million.
  • A $25 million fund to attract federal matching grants for energy, technology and health care education.
  • A $25 million fund to match industry-sponsored research.
  • Increase grants to adults seeking degrees by $20 million.
  • Spend $15 million on grants for colleges and universities to develop programs to keep students in school.

Here’s my question: We’ve increased PHEAA funding dramatically, along with general higher education funding and institutional grants, and still Pennsylvania has the 5th most expensive tuition for a public four-year university, so how will $600 million more help?

Unfortunately, these proposals are more of the same failed policies. Throwing more money at universities without reforming the system actually encourages universities to increase their tuition, as I explained in my recent commentary.

At least Auditor General Wagner’s HOPE scholarship proposal stresses institutional accountability and directly funds the students, instead of indifferently aiding bureaucratically-bloated universities.