Timothy Noah’s invective against the high cost of college does not offer any new insight to those who have been faced with the exorbitant price of attending a university or college during the last decade or so. The reason for price inflation at the college level, according to Noah, is due to the fact that a college degree is an “obvious necessity in this economy that people will pay nearly anything for it, and colleges know that” (Noah 2013). According to Noah even after “controlling for inflation, tuition and fees have risen 26 percent during the past ten years at private four-year colleges, 47 percent at public two-year colleges, and 66 percent at public four-year colleges” (2013). In 2012, there were a myriad of articles in the news as the student debt in the United States reached 1 trillion dollars. Big banks like CitiBank stepped in to offer solutions to the repayment of all of that debt. The solutions were pay it back to CitiBank with interest, have your parents take out a second (or third) trust deed on their house tp pay it back, recast student loans for longer periods of time. According to a report by NPR journalist Claudio Sanchez, who discussed parents who want to pay for their kids’ college education, tuition and fees at colleges in the US has risen dramatically “in the last five years. In Arizona, for example, parents have seen a 77 percent increase in costs. In Georgia, it's 75 percent, and in Washington state, 70 percent” (Sanchez 2014). Noah makes it clear that he thinks students and their parents are willing to pay the high cost of college because they perceive they have no alternative. Todays job market demands college degrees. The federal government, for example, is a huge and desirable employer and almost all federal jobs require degrees. One big reason that college costs so much is federaleducation subsidies by the Department of Veterans Affairs. After World War II the federal government passed the GI Bill of Rights in order to provide veterans with an opportunity to go to college. The GI Bill subsidized veterans in terms of tuition and fees. Approximately 8 million veterans enrolled because of the 1944 GI Bill (Sanchez 2014). Since the 1944 GI Bill, the Department of Veterans Affairs has added many additional education subsidies that pay a huge variety of costs for veterans to attend college and do not require any repayment by the veteran. On the benefits.va.gov site the organization offers veterans a menu of education programs including: Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, REAP, VEAP, Survivors & Dependent Assistance, Co-Op Training, Correspondence Training, Entrepreneurship Training, Flight Training, Licensing and certification, on-the job training, apprenticeship training, Tuition Assistance Top-Up, Tutorial Assistance, and Work-study compensation (2014). Besides paying all of the tuition costs and fees for veterans to attend the college of their choice, the VA also pays for veterans to buy computers, books, and housing. Veterans who are attending school are reimbursed for their house payments or rent payments at a rate predetermined by the VA according to state of residence. Additionally, there are no grade requirements. As long as the veteran gets a grade in a class, even if that grade is an “F,” they are entitled to 100% of the tuition and fee reimbursements plus housing, etc. The VA now allows veterans to transfer their educational entitlement to their spouses and children who are not veterans, and who can also receive education benefits that do not have to be repaid even if they earn an “F” average (benefits.va.gov 2014). The complaints about the ineffectiveness of the VA education program have caused limited excitement. The only effort made to curb abuse has been some mention of the fact that including all of the non-accredited colleges and schools the federal government pays veterans to attend, only about 52% of those veterans earn some type of degree or certificate (Altman 2014). The VA will pay tuition and fees along with all of the other educational benefits no matter if the college is a for-profit school like University of Phoenix or a trade school that teaches horseshoeing or massage. These are the types of schools that Noah claimed the Senate has been too busy scrutinizing to make time for investigating tuition and fee abuse by regular accredited colleges (2013). According to Noah “the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committeewere preoccupied with an investigation of abuses by for-profit colleges” (2013). It is no wonder that the 2012 budget demand from the Veterans Administration is over $140 billion (va.gov 2014). The VA is asking for “a separate funding increase of nearly $9 million that would expand the “VetSuccess on Campus” program from 28 campuses to 80, serving approximately 80,000 Veterans” (va.gov 2014). This program is ostensibly for the purpose of helping veterans “transition from the military to college” (va.gov 2014). Noah blames President Obama, the Republicans, and the Democrats for not controlling the escalating cost of attending college. Noah cites the threats made by President Obama to lower federal funding for college tuition if there was not at least a slowdown in the rapid rise of tuition and fees. It is true; Obama’s threats were not taken seriously for a couple of reasons. The programs the President threatened to cut are the ones that fund students who do not have the benefit of the VA package. These are also funds that students have to repay. Therefore, as Noah noted, this was not a great tact to take, “the Obama administration can certainly be faulted for not thinking its plan through in greater detail. Early staff deliberations struggled over the question of which federal funds to withhold” (Noah 2013). Perhaps Noah should encourage President Obama, the Republicans, and the Democrats to reduce the amount of funding paid on behalf of veterans by the federal government, funding that is not repaid by the student. Noah claims that the “likeliest vehicle for implementing some version of the president's plan is the Higher Education Act, due for reauthorization in 2014” (2013 ). However, an examination of the agenda for the reauthorization of this act reveals that its revisions are focused on allowing students to refinance federally backed student loans, seeking repayment of student loans from the colleges as well as the students in cases where the colleges have “student loan default rates exceeding certain thresholds”, fixing the National Student Loan Data System, extending “disclosures currently required on federal education loans to private student loans,” and requiring lenders to automatically apply any extra payments made on student loans to the “loan with the highest interest rate” (Lanza 2014). Nothing on the agenda addresses lowering the cost of tuition and fees at colleges and universities. Noah has made an argument for blaming the President, the Democrats, and the Republicans for not controlling the cost of college. However, these groups do not regulate tuition and fees. There are a multiplicity of reasons the cost of college is so high. In the book The Rising Cost of College there are an assortment of articles that discuss different reasons it is hard for average students from average income or below-average incomes households to pay for college. The main reason is because the federal government will pay the tuition and fees in the form of VA funding or student loans civilian students must repay. Another reason is students from other countries who are not admitted to colleges in their homeland are accepted into US colleges and pay ever higher tuition and fee rates than American students. Most students do not graduate from their undergraduate programs in four years and by prolonging their stay they increase the cost of their college education. Besides the cost of tuition and fees, there is the cost of room and board as well as textbooks to be reckoned with when attending college. Most students do not receive scholarships (Lankford 2009). All of these circumstances contribute to the high cost of a college education and most of hem are not subject to regulation by President Obam, the Democrats, or the Republicans
Altman, George. Data lacking on success outcomes for student vets. Navy Times: a Gannett Company. May. 13, 2014. Internet Resource.Lankford, Ronald D. The Rising Cost of College. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Print.Lanza, Allesandra. Higher Ed Act Reauthorization Could Affect Student Loan Borrowers. US News and World Report. March 26, 2014. Internet Resource.Noah, Timothy. "Higher and Higher Ed.” New Republic 244.3 (2013): 11-13. Academic Search Premier. 7 Dec. 2013. Internet Resource.Sanchez, Claudio. March 18, 2014. “How The Cost Of College Went From Affordable To Sky- High.” NPR.org. Internet Resource.Taylor, Adam. JUN. 8, 2012. “Here's What College Education Costs Students around the World.” Businessinsider.com. Internet Resource.