New issues in higher education, like student debt held by baby boomers and increases in the numbers of homeless and hungry students at public colleges, are stemming from the same problem, according to former Secretary of Education Paul Reville.
“Hunger and homelessness among current college students or debt among baby boomers... are symptoms of this crushing debt crisis,” he said today on Boston Public Radio. “They’re representative of just how far off track we are in terms of the way in which we’re financing higher education generally now, and the overly burdensome load that students and their families are carrying.”
Recent news stories highlight surprising statistics; people over the age of 66 hold more than $66 billion in student loan debt, and more than 1,000 students at public colleges and universities in the Bay State are homeless or at risk for becoming homeless.
According to Reville, these problems are linked to the high cost of college.
He explained that sky-high college costs are part of an inflation that’s happening for a number of reasons.
First, he explained the federal government provides grants to students so colleges feel free to raise the price of tuition.
He also said some institutions are supporting what could be seen as an “unacceptable growth” in the number of administrators they hire.
Finally, Reville said colleges might be engaged in a sort of arms race of amenities.
“Colleges feel compelled to engage in fierce competition over facilities and programs in order to attract students to pay those kinds of prices,” he explained.
Reville said since higher education is a prerequisite to getting a job in the U.S., the high cost needs to be remedied.
“It’s symptomatic that we’re way over the line on this,” he said. “We’ve got to face up to it and do something about it.”
Paul Reville former Secretary of Education and a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education where he also runs the Education Redesign Lab. To hear his interview on BPR in its entirety, click on the audio link above.