Higher education experts discuss student loans at AEI event

college degree booksHow will you pay for college? That’s the question several higher education experts spent most of Monday asking this question during the American Enterprise Institute’s “The trillion-dollar question: Reinventing student financial aid for the 21st century” event.

Some of the scholars in attendance argued that students and institutions would benefit from restructuring student loans. Nicholas Hillman of the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggested that income-based repayments, where students’ post-graduate income determines rates of paying back loans rather than paying a fixed amount every month.

“The current model of repayment is just not working,” Hillman said.

But Debbie Cochrane of the Institute for College Access and Success took issue with this approach, and recommended more transparency instead.

“The income-based repayment model is not promising for anything other than reducing default,” Cochrane said. “We need more accountability for institutions.”

Vanderbilt University’s Miguel Palacios agreed.

“We need to put higher education institutions on the hook for how well students do after they graduate,” Palacios said. “If pricing is left to people without skin in the game, then in 45 years we’ll still be discussing the same problem.”

Panelists also discussed how they would rebuild the current student loan system if they had the chance to start from scratch. New America Foundation’s Amy Laitinen supported increasing Pell Grant funding, a prominent federal source of student loans.

“If we want to pay for Pell, we should pay for it as an entitlement and take it out of the annual appropriations process,” Laitinen said.

She also said that any reforms made should focus on institutions and not students, despite their political power making students an easier target.

“We haven’t seen higher education as an industry, but as a benign thing—‘I get warm fuzzies thinking about it.’ But it’s a real political problem tying political accountability to institutions,” she added. “It’s much easier to go after students than institutions.”

Terry Hartle, vice president of the American Council on Education, recommended improving the student loan market.

“Let’s get our arms around student borrowing with counseling and making it dischargeable in bankruptcy,” Hartle said. “We’re not doing students a favor if we give them a loan they default on.”

But Richard Vedder, a professor at Ohio University and director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, thought the conference got it wrong.

“I think the Higher Education of 1965 and its various amendments have been a failure…by and large, this has been an informative conference, but we’ve been looking at the wrong problems and the wrong solutions,” Vedder said. “In our zeal to maximize the number of students who go to college, we’re subsidizing people who’d be better off going on alternative paths.”

Vedder also said some of those paths were more promising than college.

“I think we need to put more attention on non-degree-granting institutions, and on high school vocational training…we do have a labor market for that,” he said. “Go into welding, folks! There’s money in welding!”

Comments

Polititainment

Clay Aiken: voters 'might wonder' about candidacy

Former "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken concedes that voters "might wonder" about his candidacy for Congress for a new ad.

Los Angeles GOP #StandingWithSriracha

Forget #StandWithRand -- the GOP is now choosing to #StandWithSriracha.

WH responds to 'Deport Justin Bieber' petition

Despite the pleas of more than 270,000 Americans to deport Justin Bieber, the White House has chosen not to weigh in on the issue. However, the Obama administration did use a petition calling on the White House to revoke the pop artist's visa to plug President Barack Obama's plan for immigration reform.

Secret Service once threatened Mr. Met

Mr. Met sure has a lot of fans in New York. But the larger-than-life mascot definitely doesn't have one in the Secret Service, who threatened to shoot and kill him if he approached President Bill Clinton, according to a firsthand account.

Jill Biden: "I fell in love with the boys first"

Second Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden didn't marry Vice President Joe Biden for his sense of humor -- instead, she "fell in love" with his two sons first.

White House

Obama misses 67 percent of his shots playing basketball at Easter event

President Barack Obama went 1-for-3 shooting baskets at a White House Easter event Monday, prompting basketball scouts to question the leader of the free world's scoring ability ahead of this June's NBA Draft.

PETA is peeved with Michelle Obama and used little girls to tell her about it

First Lady Michelle Obama has earned the ire of three young girls. But they're not upset with her less-than-filling "Let's Move!" school lunches. Instead, these youngins are upset about the real eggs used in the White House Easter Egg Roll.

Jay Carney: “Never been a more transparent administration”

Despite consistent objections by journalists that the White House overly restricts press access, Press Secretary Jay Carney believes that there has "never been a more transparent administration."

Jay Carney: Toughest interview for Obama in 2012 was with Jon Stewart

Give comedian Jon Stewart a gold star sticker. The host of The Daily Show was President Barack Obama's toughest interviewer during the 2012 election cycle, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Thursday.

The most powerful selfie in the world

Joe Biden — he's just like you, and he takes selfies, too.

Congress

Arkansas US Sen. John Boozman having surgery

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — U.S. Sen. John Boozman is undergoing surgery at an Arkansas hospital.

Republicans are winning the Twitters this year

Congrats, Congressional Republicans -- you're winning the Twitters so far in 2014!

Rep Black: GOP budget makes a path to a bright future

Our nation is $17.4 trillion in debt and out of control Washington spending has no end in sight. In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that on our current trajectory we will return to $1 trillion annual budget deficits by the year 2022.

Cruz: Impeach Holder

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) pulled no punches when criticizing Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday, as he called on Congress to impeach the Department of Justice head.

Pelosi: GOP not acting on immigration because of race

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pulled the race card when speaking about Republicans' inaction in passing comprehensive immigration reform and said "race has something to do" with the GOP not bringing such legislation to the House floor.