After the 112th Congress effectively struck a deal last year preventing interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans from almost doubling to 6.8 percent from 3.4 percent for another year, many students from across the country were exultant. Not surprisingly, they deemed this bipartisan compromise (a rarity in Washington these days) as step towards lowering higher education costs and alleviating the crushing burden of debt threatening the futures of so many American college graduates. But this eleventh hour resolution, although widely praised by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, is nothing more than a temporary fix to a longstanding problem; one that cannot be addressed without painful and systemic reforms.
On Thursday night, I attended “Bursting the College Bubble: The Status of Higher Education Today,” hosted by America’s Future Foundation and the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. Moderated by Lindsey Burke, an education scholar at the Heritage Foundation who focuses on state and local issues, the four-person panel expounded on the value of a college degree, discussed why college costs are rising exponentially, and reviewed the government’s pernicious role in the American higher education system.
Conventional wisdom dictates that obtaining a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university is a golden ticket to the American Dream. Indeed, as the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy’s Jenna Robinson explains, “70 percent of high school graduates go on to [pursue] some kind of [postsecondary] academic degree” for this explicit purpose. But despite this seemingly positive trend, students are dropping out of college at unprecedented and alarming rates.
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