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

Secret Service once threatened Mr. Met's life

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 on Joe: "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.

Joe Biden's first Instagram photo

Ladies and gentlemen of this great nation, rejoice! Vice President Joe Biden has joined Instagram -- and his first post is everything you ever dreamed it would be.

Celebrate Tax Day with this ditty

What better way to celebrate curse Tax Day than with a little toe-tapping, finger-snapping ditty that perfectly describes how we all feel about the Internal Revenue Service?

Joy Behar roasts Chris Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) may need some ice for a few burns he sustained from former "The View" host Joy Behar, as the comedian delivered an awkward roast of the 2016 presidential hopeful.

White House

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.

Obama: Republicans a threat to the right to vote

President Barack Obama slammed Republicans on Friday for supporting voter identification law and labeled the GOP as a threat to the right to vote.

Republicans renew fight against Obamacare as Sebelius resigns

FOX NEWS -- Republicans responded to news of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' resignation from the Obama administration on Thursday with fresh calls to repeal the president's health care law.

Read more at FOX News.

Congress

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.

House passes Ryan's budget plan

The House on Thursday passed a 10-year Republican spending plan drafted by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

Read more at The Washington Examiner.

Harry Reid's Koch-fueled meltdown

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has been in a Koch-fueled rage, seizing moments left and right (mostly from the left) to bash Charles and David Koch.