For a long time, Americans have held the thought that Democrats try to give hands to the poor and Republicans uplift the well off. These stereotypes might hold true in cases like taxes, business, and other economy-influencing matters, House of Republicans’ PROSPER Act proves otherwise.
Democrats have been advocates of free education. However, the results of free education in countries where it has been implemented have had despicable results. Here are some examples:
1. In Scotland, aid was redistributed from low-income to high-income students.
2. In Chile, free education increased demand for selective universities and pushed out low-income students.
On the contrary, when England asked universities to increase charges for tuition, funding for universities increased. The enrollment of students increased and the gap between low-and high-come students came down significantly.
This sounds counter-intuitive but there’s truth to it. Well, let’s scrutinize free education:
1. When the government pays for every student it will also pay for students who can pay for themselves. It’s no surprise that this way the government will limit higher education financing. The whole point of subsidies for universities and colleges will be futile.
2. Poor subsidy will likely put high-income students in limited seats than low-income students.
A more reasonable approach to subsidize higher education is to let the students who can pay and help those who can’t bear the cost of education. The Republicans’ PROSPER Act is trying to do the same – bringing education to those who want education, but can’t afford it.
One of the ways the PROSPER Act does so is by eliminating PSLF (Public Service Loan Forgiveness). The program forgives loans for students who work in the government or NGO after 10 years based on income-based repayment. This is mostly taxpayer’s money going to expensive graduate degrees, who later command top positions on the economic ladder. This is a regressive approach.
PROSPER Act, on the other hand, uses savings from these and gives it to students who are receiving Pell grants. Now, this is really taking money from rich people and giving them to poor people to keep a steady pace of growth on the economic ladder.
PROSPER Act also increases the potential of increasing the workforce as Pell grants are awarded for four-years university degree programs as well as workforce-oriented skill development programs. This will not only help economically lower students but support the growth of the U.S. companies as employers continue to bear the brunt of the low supply of skilled workers.
PROSPER Act does have a lot of things to improve like the accountability mechanism and accreditation but it’s still a better approach to higher education in several ways. As with all good things, the act can use a lot more improvement if opposing parties seek more.
Regarding student loans, the government needs to pull itself out completely from subsidizing graduate programs, as the market failure scenario doesn’t exist for government involvement. The private sector can do much efficient work in the area. Private organizations are willing to offer subsidies in higher education, resulting in a win-win for both organizations and institutions. The money saved from this could go into the expansion of Pell grants.
In theory, Conservatives and Liberals can push the Republicans for this and make PROSPER act better but only if Conservatives decide to vouch for higher education and Liberals get over their fixation of ‘free education’ and be involved in progressive policymaking for a change.
PROSPER Act certainly represents a progressive direction in making higher education accessible for everyone. By cutting handout to the rich and extending a supporting hand to the working-class student, the act follows through proper policy prescription and remedies what ails the American education.