Conservatism is the only way to save higher education, Brad Polumbo, assistant editor at Young Voices, argues in National Review. That’s because well-intentioned liberal interventions trying to bring down the cost of higher education have backfired.
Polumbo explores some examples of fiscally conservative policies that reduced the cost of college. He presents the example of Purdue University.
“Tuition hikes hit Purdue students hard between 2010 and 2012,” he writes. “But when former GOP governor Mitch Daniels took over as president in 2013, he implemented comprehensive reforms that slashed the cost of attendance.”
Daniels then took a hacksaw to the bloated bureaucracy on campus, cutting $8 million from the school’s operating budget. He also slashed the cost of room and board by 5 percent, trimmed the fat from the campus dining program to reduce prices by 10 percent, and struck a deal with Amazon that saved students 30 percent on textbooks. Yet Daniels didn’t just cut costs — he reduced classes, too. He introduced Purdue’s now-famous “Degree in 3” program, allowing liberal-arts students to graduate a year early and reducing the cost of college by 25 percent. This lets some students save as much as $20,000.
The results are frozen tuition rates, families saving money, and student borrowing falling. The total cost of in-state attendance is just over $21,000, which is very favorable when compared to other top public universities, Polumbo writes.
“So in the face of an ever-expanding student-debt bubble, it’s time for this transformation to take place on the national level,” Polumbo concludes. “Yet unfortunately, 77 percent of Millennials still support the ‘free college’ proposals pushed by Democratic Socialists such as Senator Sanders. They ignore the alternative: reining in free-wheeling spending on campus and passing the savings on to students.”