Monday, October 22, 2012

College Choice

The candidates tried to explain
How to lessen America's pain
From tuition and fees
That pay for degrees
Of commercially dubious gain.

Said Obama: "I'd like to enhance
Federal aid, be it loans or Pell grants;
Though I'm hopelessly lost
On containing the cost,
At least I will get you financed."

Said Romney: "The government's never
Very good, but the market is clever;
So you're out on your own
To get your own loan,
Where-, how-, from whom- for what-ever."

Said neither: "On loans, I will let it
Be decided by factors of credit,
So that those who can show
That they're getting to know
Something useful are those who will get it."

The US Presidential election is two weeks away and the final debate is this evening, but so far both candidates have gotten away without putting forth an effective plan to address the looming higher education crisis. We have a vicious cycle of ballooning student debt to pay for rapidly rising costs of education which, in all to many cases, does not prepare the graduates for a gainful career, and hence offers no hope of repaying those mountainous loans. Both President Obama and Governor Romney would do well to take a page from the book of my friend Jay Hallen, who proposed in the National Review that the provision and pricing of student loans should be based on the likelihood of repayment, as is the case with any other type of loan. This would have the effect of directing student loans to where the economy most needs them, i.e., toward programs that prepare students with the skills that employers most need.

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