New report blasts federal and state governments for debt and completion crises
- The Hechinger Report profiles a new study from the Education Trust, which chides federal and state governments for ignoring the rising costs and declining investments in college education which have collectively contributed to a $1 trillion national student loan debt and a 40% national college completion rate.
- The study shows that over the last 30 years, tuition and fees covered by the federal Pell grant program helped to cover more than 70% of annual costs. Today, they cover just over 30%.
- Officials say that the lack of access, particularly among low-income students, will significantly impair the nation's objective of being among the world's most prolific producers of college graduates.
Until the country devises a plan to counter the growing debt and access problems in higher education for the majority of its citizenry, it will continue to trail other modern and developing countries in scientific discovery, national defense, healthcare advances and domestic development. It will grow in the number of citizens who are impoverished, and create a more impenetrable cycle of limited college access that will ultimately undo large sectors of industry and economy.
Colleges should seek ways to develop on their campus' programs similar to the former federal Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership program, which provides matching dollars for students spending on higher education. Partnering with private companies and government agencies for the brightest students could create a workforce pipeline that aids completion and affordability for millions of students.