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No. of Recommendations: 1
(Sorry this is long. Hope you'll bear with my rambling)

What a novel concept - cutting back on the piggies' feed to stop them from getting fatter at the public (and, ultimately, the students') trough! Go Rep. McKeon!

I have trouble with the following from the article:

"Most important, the colleges argue, the legislation would ultimately hurt the very students it is intended to help. Although Mr. McKeon's bill would not withhold federal Pell grants and Stafford loans, two primary sources of assistance to low-income students, several other programs would be withdrawn. In particular, campuses could be cut off from federal money that helped pay student workers, provided scholarships and furnished low-interest loans to those in need of financial aid.

"'The federal government lacks a policy mechanism to control tuition without simultaneously hurting low- and middle-income students,' said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education. 'There is simply no easy way for the federal government to penalize the schools without simultaneously taking away money for students. That's all it can really do.'"

Compare these comments to this:

"The congressman, Howard P. McKeon, a California Republican and a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, warned that as many as two million low-income students would be barred from pursuing postsecondary degrees in the next decade if college costs remained unchecked.

So, which is the greater evil? Taking money away from universities and forcing them to be fiscally responsible, or allowing them to ramp up costs and make higher education financially unobtainable? Since when does sticking students with a increasing amounts of long-term debt benefit the student? To the contrary, if the federal government declared a school ineligible for aid under these guidelines, students can go to other eligible schools that keep costs in check. That way, market forces will pressure the newly-ineligible schools to either keep costs in line or perish.

I remember applying for law school and seeing the vast discrepancy in tuition costs between some schools. I drew the conclusion that, basically, there's a law school for everyone who wants to go - it just depends on how you want to be accredited and much you want to pay to get in. Administrators seem to believe that as well. As a general rule, the poorer your credentials and LSAT scores, the more expensive the school since state-run law schools (with lower tuition) can be more selective.

Not to bad-mouth my alma mater, but I've seen instances at UCLA where huge fund-raising plans (10-year plans with fundraising goals in the HUNDREDS of millions of dollars, for example) were created and contributions or donations which COULD go toward offsetting education expenses were, instead, earmarked for particular pet building projects. Donors are asked to contribute to these plans thinking, perhaps, that they are helping the school's general fund as well as donating to a new building or medical center or the like. They do this, in many cases, so they can leave their "mark" on the campus and have a study lounge or wing of a building named after themselves. When challenged about new project construction juxtaposed against increasing tuition costs, administrators can then fall back on the argument that because these donations were designated ONLY for capital improvement projects they can't be used to offset general expenses and tuitions must be raised to compensate.

Heck, UCLA's been a contractor's wet dream since the late 80's - constant construction on new projects, new dorm buildings, earthquake retrofitting of old structures (especially after the '94 Northridge quake), temporary building projects, demolition of student parking, etc. At one point in the 90's there was so much construction that students entering in 1991 and graduating in 1995 had NEVER set foot in the campus library because it was closed for earthquake retrofitting - the school had to conduct special tours through the library site for the Class of '95 just before they graduated so they could see - for the first time - what the inside of the main library (that they'd paid for, but never used) looked like from inside the scaffolds.

As for expenses, here's an example of how they're out of line with reality. In the early 90's there was an incident where some lettering on a archway had been re-arranged to change the name of "Boelter Hall" to read "Boalter Hell" - a student prank, to be sure. The lettering remained for several days and was quite a humorous issue. The campus newspaper printed photos of the letters and had an article about it. After a few days, students and faculty were writing letters to the editor wondering why it had not been corrected. The university responded that it couldn't correct the lettering for several days until a crew was contracted to come in and replace the letters - at a cost of several hundred dollars. The university also threatened to prosecute whoever was responsible because of the cost it would incur. In the meanwhile, an enterprising student realized that the letters were only affixed to the marble wall with heavy-duty double-sided tape, took the letters off the wall, switched the two letters, and solved the problem in about a minute and at a cost of $0 - then wrote a letter to the newspaper explaining the process and embarrassing the administration. Knowing the school, they probably still paid the crew to come out and do nothing but look at the corrected lettering and I don't think they sought to prosecute the student for the corrections. ;)

Another example came when I worked in a campus library over the summer. The fiscal year for the university ended on June 30. As we entered June, the supervisors suddenly started offering student workers more hours and even overtime (in summer - when no one was on campus to use the libraries!) whereas they were normally quite stingy about such things. I asked why and was told that they had some extra money in their budget that they "had" to spend before July 1. They HAD to spend it all because if any was left over - and the powers-that-be found out about it - the next year's budget would be reduced to reflect the surplus spending (and we can't have THAT happen, now, can we?).

And people wonder why their tuition is so expensive! Good luck to Rep. McKeon in getting this bill passed.
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