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

Foxx talks dancing with Christie, McCain
Who could possibly forget this epic photo? Late night host Jimmy Kimmel certainly hadn’t, so when he had the chance to interview actor Jamie Foxx Wednesday night, he simply had to get the back story. Foxx has been the host of this annual charity event for several years. “What’s interesting is that every year that […]
Jon Stewart on Christie's 'pig problem'

Jon Stewart got into Chris Christie’s “pig problem”—which wasn’t quite what Stewart thought it was at first.

Rogen: 'Amazing' to smoke in White House

Seth Rogen told The Hill in a recent interview that he believes he is now on a "list" of individuals banned on from President Obama's residence because of his recent tweet expressing his desire to smoke marijuana in the White House.

Kimmel's insightful e-card rant

Kimmel's broadside against e-cards raises an interesting point about the way Democrats have encouraged their followers to pass along birthday well-wishes to their party's elected officials and leaders.

Stewart hits Pelosi for hypocrisy
Jon Stewart hit Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D- Calif.) hard Tuesday night for her hypocrisy in a recent voting decision. “You are a recognized champion of women and voter rights,” Stewart started off, playing clips of her oft-repeated speeches on the topics. “Your voting and lady bonafides are unmatched.” So lucky for Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D- Ill.), […]

White House

Obama spurns GOP with expansive immigration orders

WASHINGTON (AP) — Spurning furious Republicans, President Barack Obama unveiled expansive executive actions on immigration Thursday night to spare nearly 5 million people in the U.S. illegally from deportation and refocus enforcement efforts on "felons, not families."

After multiple hacks, the federal government’s cybersecurity plan remains on hold

The federal government is not having the best time with cybersecurity of late.

Obama to announce executive action on immigration Thursday

President Obama announced Wednesday afternoon that he will unveil his unilateral plan for immigration reform to the nation in a primetime address Thursday.

Reports: Obama could unveil amnesty for illegal immigrants within days

President Obama is set to unveil a comprehensive, unilateral plan for immigration reform that includes amnesty as soon as next week, according to a report Thursday.

Obama on ‘Face the Nation': Congress still has time to act on immigration
After warnings from Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. John Boehner, President Obama claimed on Sunday’s “Face the Nation” that Congress still has time to act on immigration before his executive order comes down. “I’d prefer and still prefer to see it done through Congress, but every day that I wait we’re misallocating resources. We’re deporting […]

Congress

Rep. Bachmann finds the smoke-filled rooms of DC
Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann may be on her way out of Washington, but that didn’t stop her from finally finding her way to the often criticized smoke-filled rooms of DC. On Wednesday, the Congresswoman seemed to be enjoying her a last bit of recess down time with a cigar and a perfectly appropriate tweet. After […]
Rand suggests a wardrobe change for 'King' Obama
Sen. Rand Paul (R- Ky.) took to Facebook to suggest an Obama wardrobe change following the president’s comments that he will use the executive branch to push his immigration agenda. Post by Rand Paul. “This isn’t about immigration reform. This is about his usurping of power that the Constitution didn’t give him,” Paul said in an interview […]
Senator: 'There could be violence'

Retiring Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn has issued a stark warning about the fallout from President Obama's immigration plan.

Pro- and anti-NSA Republicans vote down reform

Senate Republicans banded together to kill a National Security Agency reform bill, but some did it for entirely opposite reasons.

The House hires an Obama voter to sue Obama

In an act that belongs in the trolling hall of fame, the House of Representatives has retained a lawyer who voted for President Obama and supports "national health care" to sue President Obama over Obamacare.