House Subcommitee Discusses Soaring Cost of College

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The Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce met today to discuss college affordability.  

“Streamlining costs and reducing tuition in higher education is not just a good idea, it is essential to our future,” said Jamie Merisotis, CEO of the Lumina Foundation for Education, another witness.

Subcommittee chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) opened the hearing – entitled “Keeping College Within Reach: Discussing Ways Institutions Can Streamline Costs and Reduce Tuition” – by highlighting the subcommittee’s main concerns: Higher education costs have grown by approximately 72 percent since 2001, according to the College Board.

“Clearly, the rise in the cost of higher education in the United States is a problem,” Foxx said in her opening statement. “But the answer cannot be found in loan forgiveness gimmicks or a federal takeover of the student loan industry.”

Subcommittee ranking member, Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), said nontraditional and minority students are entering postsecondary establishments in record numbers and must have the opportunity to succeed.

Hinojosa said according to a study by Young Invincibles, Demos and the Institute for College Access and Success, “84 percent of young adults surveyed say making college more affordable should be a priority for U.S. congress.”

Ronald Manahan, president of Grace College and Seminary in Winona Lake, Ind., said his institution is responding to the inability of some students to meet four-year costs by offering a three-year degree option and a two-year alternative degree program.

The latter option is designed to be offered in multiple urban areas where family incomes make the cost of independent higher education unaffordable. The annual cost of this program is $7,800, and Manahan said the response to this newly developed program has been positive. 

Merisotis said that Lumina believes by 2025, 60 percent of Americans will need a college degree to remain economically competitive and examined ways to increase the number of postsecondary degree holders without having to increase the costs of higher education. He identified four strategies Lumina developed to accomplish this goal: performance funding, using student incentives to increase course and degree completion, developing and implementing new models of delivery and introducing business efficiencies to produce savings that can be used to graduate more students.

Other witnesses included Jane Wellman, executive director of the Delta Project on Postsecondary Costs, Productivity and Accountability, and Tim Foster, president of Colorado Mesa University.

Click here to read full statements from Foxx and the witnesses.