A friend asked me the other day about financial aid for his college student. I’m no expert, but I could tell him a little from what I’ve seen from my girl’s experience. I was able to tell him that under Republican government in Texas, that the Texas Grant program hasn’t been fully funded since 2004, and that the state deregulated college tuition some years back, which has allowed Texas state colleges to raise tuition by an average of 39% in recent years. I also told him that House Republicans cut funding for Pell Grants by $600 million last year.
As for good news, the Obama administration was able change the federal student loan program so that loans are now administered directly by the federal government, so that money once diverted to private lenders is now available to students. This was done over the vehement opposition of Republican lawmakers, who screamed about a socialist government takeover of private lending companies.
And since I was preaching politics, of course I told of Mitt Romney’s advice to students who found college unaffordable; that they shop around for a good deal, and borrow money from their parents if necessary. There’s also Ann Romney’s tale of getting by in college by selling off some of the stock holdings their parents had given them. –That’s it kids, sell off those silver spoons.
I was able to tell of one instance where the GOP supports higher education and that is their support of for-profit colleges. These are those outfits that do the job of community colleges only at a higher cost, often using moonlighting community college instructors for faculty. They may have abysmal graduation rates, and not place many of their graduates into the workforce, but they do a hell of a business of accepting anybody with a pulse who is eligible for federal student aid. For-profit schools get 75% of their revenue from federal grants and loans, over $25 billion last year. They also lead the industry in students defaulting on student loans.
Why are Republican legislators so cozy with for-profit schools? I’d say it’s another example of the Willie Sutton rule; “that’s where the money is.” That’s why Jack Abramoff lobbied for Indian tribes. It wasn’t out of compassion; he called them monkeys and troglodytes, he pitched to them because he wanted to skim millions out of their casino money. That’s why Republicans fought to water down regulation of banking and trading after the Crash of 2008, isn’t it? The Center for Responsive Politics reports that over 90% of Wall Street contributions to candidates and super-pacs this year have gone to Republicans. I can’t say that there aren’t sluts on both side of the aisle, but it’s pretty obvious which side the big moneys lining up on, meaning, as usual, that it’s open season on Boobus Americanus should he decide to vote with the plutocrats again.