Advocacy Group Offers 3 Ideas for Funding Higher Education
College costs continue to rise, increasing by 15 percent or more at some schools in just two years. That figure is well above the rate of inflation although everyday costs have risen considerably in recent years. A group known as the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education has been advocating for better funding of higher education and recently outlined three ideas that it says can make college affordable as well as accessible for almost all Americans. Its ideas were presented in position papers that were discussed during a national telephone news briefing on Tuesday.
Bob Samuels, President, University of California-American Federation of Teachers and a lecturer at UCLA offered his paper, “Making All Public Education Free.” Researchers Stanton A. Glantz and Eric Hays wrote, “Financial Options for Restoring Quality and Access to Public Higher Education in California: 2012/13.” Rudy Fichtenbaum, President, American Association of University Professors and an Economics Professor at Wright State University wrote, “Financial Options for Restoring Quality and Access to Public Higher Education in California: 2012/13.”
Samuels’ proposal is the most bold of the three, as he articulated that public college education should be free. He noted that this become a reality by reallocating current federally funded programs that cost taxpayers more than $140 billion per year, specifically Pell grant funds and student loans. States kick in another $90 billion, monies that could be best reallocated by eliminating tuition.
Although Samuels offered his paper as a way that tuition could be eliminated, he understood that, “this idea is simply not on the table.” The professor offered, “we should at least be looking at some real numbers and some real costs of our current approach.” Free public education should at least be part of the conversation as a better financing model is examined Samuels explained.
Glantz, a professor with the Department of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco and Eric Hays, Director of Research, Council of UC Faculty Associations, took a look at California higher education specifically in their paper. The two advocated that student fees should be rolled back to 2000-2001 levels, a move that would cost California taxpayers $6.4 billion or $48 each. That aid would benefit both University of California and California State University students alike, with no additional benefit to the state’s community college system.
Fichtenbaum proposed that a financial transactions based tax be placed on stock, bonds and futures with revenue generated allocated to fund higher education. Fichtenbaum noted that the United States once had such a tax in place while other countries including the United Kingdom and Taiwan currently do.
In his concluding remarks Fichtenbaum noted, “A modest tax on financial transactions, a tax that would primarily affect wealthy investors, many of whom have benefited from the government bail-out of Wall Street banks during the Great Recession, would be an important piece of adequate funding for higher education.” That tax proposal would, of course, be hotly debated in Congress should related legislation make it that far.
About the CFHE
The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education was launched in May 2011 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The group is advocating for reform in higher education with its desire to make college affordable throughout society. The CFHE provides a platform for students, taxpayers, faculty and staff to air their voices in a bid to ensure that higher education system standards are preserved while affordability is pursued.
 The Atlantic: How in the World Did College Costs Rise 15% in Only 2 Years? — http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/06/how-in-the-world-did-college-costs-rise-15-in-only-2-years/258463/
 CBS Money Watch: Inflation: Now as Low as You Think — http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505144_162-57387655/inflation-not-as-low-as-you-think/