ND Senate Pumps A Little More Air Into The Higher Ed Bubble

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One of the biggest mistakes we’ve made as a nation is assuming that subsidizing tuition – be it through low-interest, government-backed loans or grants and scholarships – would help make higher education more affordable. That’s not the case. The more money the government makes available to subsidize tuition, the higher tuition goes.

So what the North Dakota state Senate just did in making more scholarship money available for college-bound students isn’t helping the students. It’s making the campuses, and the higher education bureaucrats, a little richer.

BISMARCK — This year’s high school graduates might be able to receive more scholarship money through the state’s Merit Based Scholarship program.

Senate lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2222 unanimously Friday, which would appropriate $3.7 million for the 2013-15 biennium and $8.8 million for the 2015-17 biennium.

The bill would raise the amount of money per student from $750 to $1,250 per semester and raise the program’s maximum allowance from $6,000 to $10,000.

The program requires a student to receive an ACT score of 29 or higher, take a list of required courses and maintain a 2.75 GPA.

“It will help keep students on pace with inflation and pay a larger share of tuition and fees,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo. “It establishes a system of rigor and rewards and the money follows the students.”

Merit scholarships aren’t the worst offense in this regard, but we’re far past the time when we have to admit that the more money we make available to subsidize tuition only serves to inflate the amount of tuition the universities charge. We’re distorting the market, and we’re hurting the students.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • Tim Heise

    I understand the bigger problem BUT only a 2.75 gpa req. that is crazy. It should be at least 3.25

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      You’re supposing that the intent is to help students.

      I don’t think that’s true. I think the intent is to funnel more money into the universities. The students are just the delivery mechanism.

  • ec99

    Most students will not get a 29 ACT. Automatic admission to UND is something like 21 or so. If you can’t get a 2.75 anymore you are brain dead. Chalk it up to grade inflation.

  • Nelly

    Availability of such scholarships do nothing for the student long term. Trying student tuition to state support is the only measure that helps. That is what was done with the two-year schools last biennium and it held tuition to no increase.

    The legislature should fund salary increases at the level of state employees and benefits as well as standard operating expenses. Tell the institutions they have revenue to operate with no tuition increase.

    We as citizens have to know that the state only funds about 60% of salaries, benefits and operating expense approved by the legislature. The students are expected to make up the rest through increased tuition. One of the reason tuition increases every year is because of this legislative mandate,

  • yy4u2

    I’m with Mr. Heise on the gpa and ec99 with the ACT of 29. If u can get a 29 but not keep a 2.75, you have more than tuition problems.

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