As the proud father of four children, I strongly believe that all children should have access to quality education. Providing a first-rate education for America's youth is one of the most important responsibilities of parents, local school boards, states, and, to a relatively small degree, the federal government. For over forty five years now, the Federal Government's role in education has been expanding, yet has repeatedly failed to improve the outcome for the youth. This country is in dire need of a more coherent vision for education reform.
I am greatly concerned by the rapidly increasing costs of a college education and the impact this has on many students' ability to access higher education. While some individuals' paths may not require a college degree, there is no doubt that a college education generates greater opportunities for all students. Additionally, increasing access to higher education is essential to America's economic future because our economy depends on an educated, productive, and innovative workforce.
The average college tuition has increased tremendously over the past decade. The federal government has responded to these rapidly increasing costs by spending more and more on financial aid. Economists have argued that colleges will charge as much as their customers are able to pay, therefore raising their tuition whenever student aid increases to capture the additional aid. This results in federal student aid actually subsidizing colleges, not students. In addition, academic institutions haven't done enough to make themselves more financially transparent. I believe Congress has repeatedly missed the opportunity to hold colleges and universities accountable for how they spend taxpayer dollars and might in fact continue to fuel the problem of rising costs by giving additional aid without providing new information to consumers.
It is my hope that Congress focuses on real solutions to the rising cost of higher education and in a way that doesn't worsen our already unsustainable mandatory spending programs and ensures that additional federal financial aid does not in fact contribute to increasing college costs. Otherwise, we are effectively trying to solve one problem by creating another. I also believe higher education institutions need to be held accountable for their spending and create greater financial transparency so that students and taxpayers can see where their money is being spent.