Spellings: Affordability Is Families' No.1 Concern Regarding College

"Containing college costs and streamlining financial aid must be at the forefront of the nation’s higher education agenda, University of North Carolina system president Margaret Spellings said Tuesday at a gathering meant to forge a more bipartisan approach to federal higher education policy," Diverse: Issues in Higher Education reports.

"'For most families in the U.S., the single most important fact about higher education is it’s not affordable,' Spellings said.

'Even at public institutions, most families can’t pay out of pocket for a year of higher education. Most families don’t have anywhere near the savings to support a child for two or four or often five or six years of study,' Spellings continued. 'We have sold college as the golden ticket to middle class opportunity, then priced average families out of that market.'

Spellings — who served as U.S. Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush — said higher education is facing many of the same issues that it faced when as secretary she oversaw a higher education reform commission known as the Spellings Commission.

She said as the world becomes more competitive and demands higher levels of education, America is at risk of letting “inequities in access harden into [an] unbridgeable economic divide.”

'Too many families look at the cost of college and see a closed door, not just to education but to the promise of middle class stability that is still at the core of the American dream,' Spellings said. She said there are 'growing questions about whether the colleges and universities in our country are fulfilling their role as the engine of upward mobility and growing resentment from those who feel shut out.'

Despite the political popularity of free college proposals and plans — from the Tennessee Promise to the Excelsior Scholarship program in New York State to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign proposal to make college free for all — Spellings said it would be more beneficial for policymakers to focus on allocating resources in a more efficient manner to benefit those of lesser economic means."

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Publication Date: 10/12/2017

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