How a Harvard Economist Would Make Free Tuition Even Better

"The beauty of free public college proposals is their simplicity: Remove the barrier of high tuition costs and you’ll open the doors to wider economic prosperity. Easy, right? Not exactly," according to Money.

"The rising cost of a college degree is only one-half of the problem. The other? Far too few students who start college actually go on to earn a degree. And free tuition models could exacerbate that problem by increasing enrollment at already under-resourced state colleges without improving colleges’ ability to handle an influx of students.

The solution, according to a paper released today by Harvard economist David Deming, is to provide states with a financial incentive to focus on improving outcomes while also reducing costs to families. Deming is suggesting Congress establish a matching grant program, to be paid by the federal government to states with free tuition programs. States could earn up to $5,000 per student to be spent in two specific categories: instructional quality and academic support.

His main goal is improving retention and graduation rates. As college enrollment has grown dramatically in the past three decades, college completion, has been relatively static. About six in 10 students at public, four-year colleges graduate within six years, and four in 10 students who start at a community college go on to earn a degree, according to the data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

What's more, income gaps in college completion have increased, despite a growth in need-based financial aid that has allowed a wider demographic group to enroll in college."

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 4/28/2017

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