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Federal education spending: Cover for padding …

Higher education’s spending priorities are so misplaced that students face ever-higher tuition and debt despite record levels of federal student aid.

James A. Bacon, author of the “Boomergeddon” book and blog, notes in The Washington Times that the Obama administration has boosted total student-aid spending nearly 50 percent and gave students $28.2 billion in 2009-10 Pell grants — $10 billion more than in 2008-09.

National Center for Education Statistics data show that from 2003-04 to 2006-07, U.S. higher education institutions’ operating expenditures grew by an inflation-adjusted 16 percent. Their spending on institutional support, academic support, student services and operations and maintenance — “the most administration-intensive categories,” Mr. Bacon says — grew even more. Yet spending on scholarships and fellowships that make their institutions more affordable grew just 9.6 percent.

So long as federal money flows, he writes, “higher education can evade accountability.” Eliminating that largess would force cost efficiency, which Bacon calls “the only way” toward greater college affordability.

Otherwise, administrators will just continue their misplaced priorities — aggrandizing themselves and their institutions at students’ expense.


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