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Quick Take: Federal Takeover of Higher Education

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 10, 2021

Quick Take: Federal Takeover of Higher Education

Instead of expanding all educational opportunities for students, Democrats intend to dictate what choices millions of students make along the path of their postsecondary education with the promise of “free” tuition.

Not all students are best served through these traditional baccalaureate degree programs. Indeed, the data suggests that students are increasingly seeking education opportunities other than those subsidized by this bill. Enrollment shares in all other institutional sectors have increased since 1990, but the share of students enrolling in public, two-year institutions declined by nearly 30 percent. Today, less than one-third of students enroll in a public, two-year institutions.

Democrats claim that rising college costs and insufficient state support are the reason for low enrollment while completely ignoring other factors that are likely driving this trend.

Institutions have continually seen poor student outcomes. Just 40 percent of students attending public two-year institutions graduate within six years of enrollment – SIX years. That is three times longer than what it should take.

Graduates continually fair worse with respect to labor market outcomes, as they face higher rates of unemployment and lower earnings than their non-community college peers.

Given these facts, it’s troubling that Democrats champion this proposal as the centerpiece to their higher education agenda. A one-size-fits-all model is poor public policy but is especially disastrous when it’s centered around an institutional cohort that performs worse than all other sectors.

If Congress wants to create a $100 billion race-to-the bottom that stifles innovation, harms students, and brings the failures of “No Child Left Behind” that plagued our K-12 system to the forefront of higher education, then we need to look no further than this latest “free” college proposal.




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