Government and Higher Education: How the Government is Simultaneously Helping and Hurting

By Dixie Somers, Special for  USDR

The government’s role in education has been dominant since the creation of the Department of Education. Recently, however, this dominance has been shifting from k-12 to k-higher education. Through financial aid, community college support and college readiness programs the government both improves and hinders higher  learning.

Financial Aid
Currently, the federal government provides 75% of total student financial aid. Financial Aid provides students from various backgrounds access to higher education making college affordable for middle class Americans. Despite the greatest of intentions, the government’s willingness to provide funding for nearly any student is having some unintended consequences. According to recent research by the National Bureau of Economic Research, higher education institutions which receive federal financial aid have 78% higher tuition rates than those institutions ineligible for aid. Additionally, the artificially low rates for student loans, coupled with the wide availability, have created a student loan bubble. The student loan default rate is at 23%. As we have seen with the 2008 crisis, reckless lending results in borrowers who cannot repay their  debts.

Community Colleges
President Obama has proposed free two year community college for responsible students. Such measures are projected to lead to economic gains for millions of Americans. More students will be able to further their education and attain the skills necessary to be successful in the workforce. This will positively affect our economy.
Pushing for free community college, on the other hand, can lead to raises in tuition for even higher learning. Additionally, higher educational demands from the workforce will cause more Americans to be coerced into taking on additional debts for Masters Degrees and graduate  degrees.

College Readiness Programs
Because the government has dominance over k-12 programs while the independent sector maintains control of higher learning institutions, expectations and standards vary widely on what will produce a successful college graduate. 42% of freshman in public two-year colleges need remediation. The government has provided the nation with college readiness programs through acts such as No Child Left Behind. This benefits students entering college by ensuring their preparedness. Such regulations, on the other hand, have increased government control over curriculum, shifted school focus to mandatory tests, and caused reduced or halted funding for needy  schools.

Financial aid, community college support and college readiness programs have been the basis of the federal government’s attempt to improve higher education. As with all things, the government’s intervention has both positive and negative effects on the world of higher education. The information for this article was provided by the professionals at Norwich University, who provide history master’s programs for interested  students.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.