Fighting in the Heart of Liberal Madison for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This blog will focus on liberal hypocrisy and the small, but significant victories of the right at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

11 December 2005

Financial aid must be cut

Brad V. Over at LIB has a great post about the need to cut financial Aid to for college students.

How about this: the federal government - instead of spending $110 billion propping up financial aid programs and the bureaucracies required to run them - initially puts all of the funds and overhead toward outright reduction of the cost of tuition across the board at state universities.

Long term, this new paradigm would be sustained by massively increasing tax deductions to cover any contributions to a person's college education costs. The
elimination of financial aid programs at the federal level would eliminate the need for the tax revenue ultimately lost through the deductions. And state universities would gain the funds lost in elimination of financial aid through the increased personal contributions to students' educations.

Brad V. further suggests that the same "aid" the government gives students may be the cause of the raise in tuition. Jeff Jacoby, a columnist at has some reasons why.

Tuition and fees were up 10.5 percent at state colleges and universities last year. The year before that, they were up 14 percent. Every year for nearly a quarter-century -- since before most of today's college students were born -- higher education costs have raced ahead of inflation. And far from slowing this runaway train, government aid serves only to stoke the engine.

How could it do otherwise? Every dollar that Washington generates in student aid is another dollar that colleges and universities have an incentive to harvest, either by raising their sticker price or reducing the financial aid they offer from their own funds. Higher Education Act funds "are seen by colleges and universities as money that is there for the taking," observes Peter Wood, an anthropology professor at Boston University. "Tuition is set high enough to capture those funds and whatever else we think can be extracted from parents. Perhaps there are college administrators who don't see federal student aid in quite this way, but I haven't met
them." In 10 years of attending committee meetings on the university's annual tuition adjustment, says Wood, "the only real question was, 'How much can we get away with?'"

Public and Private Universities alike are raising tuition BECAUSE THEY CAN, not because they have to. The administrators know that financial aid will increase and it will cover the gap. If tuition doubles in Wisconsin, financial aid packages for Wisconsin will increase, almost dollar for dollar.

Here is how it works. When a student fills out the financial Aid form, it comes up with an expected family contribution (EFC). Then that number is transmitted to the school which subtracts the EFC from the cost of tuition, room, board, and other costs at a school (15,250 for an in-state student at UW) and arrives at "needed aid". If tuition goes up 25 percent, the needed aid will also go up to cover that gap. If a majority of students are receiving aid, the University will reap the rewards...and the extra federal dollars.

So, to cut tuition, we have to cut financial aid greatly. Here are my recommendations:

1. Like Brad V. Recommended, allow a DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR tax credit for any taxpayer that pays for someone's tuition, puts money into a college savings account, or gives to a scholarship fund. So if my uncle pays 5000 dollars in federal taxes and he wants to help me pay tuition, he could give up to 5000 dollars and not have to pay taxes that year. Or a corporation could give 100,000 dollars to a merit based scholarship fund.

2. The federal government should provide some government dollars to increase or national security. So, the GI Bill will continue, ROTC scholarships will continue, and financial aid for the HARD Sciences, Engineering, and mathematics will be increased. Also, trade school funding will be greatly increased as well.

3. Standards for High Schools will be increased as well. Schools that do not perform (based on graduation rates, tests, drop out rates, AND college acceptance) will first get increased federal funding and if that does not work, every student in that school will qualify for vouchers or regional school choice. The goal has to be to make a high school degree worth as much as it did 20 years ago.

Many will be close minded to this idea, they will say that people will be priced out of an education, that is is a classist idea. Well, the current system sure isn't working. According to Chancellor Wiley, the average income of the families of UW Madison students has been increasing.

The median family income in Wisconsin is a little over $45,000/year. The median family income of this year's new freshmen at UW-Madison is nearly $90,000/year. Yet, the distribution of brains, talents, ambition, and creativity is independent of family income. We will ignore that fact and freeze out the children of average and low-income families at our great peril.

throwing more money at the problem won't help either. If financial aid is increased, tuition will raise to fill the gap, it is basic economics. It is time to make a bold move. Financial aid needs to be cut 60-70 percent AND the tax cuts listed above need to be instituted and we will start to see a difference. Without financial Aid, the University would be forced to keep tuition reasonable. Like a frequent poster on my blog said on Mark's site: "SMASH THE STATE! Revolution, not reform." Damn strait! We need a financial aid revolution, more money (reform) will not solve the problem.



Blogger Bill said...

I have an idea.

How about we use the obsene amount of money we spend on the military-industrial complex (which constitutes just under half your Federal Income Tax -- more than any other nation on earth, and more than $1 Trillion annually) and spend that on human needs instead.

Oh wait... we can't do that. It would cut into the profits of the Calyle Group, Lockhead Martin, Northrop Gruman, Halliburton, Bechtel, etc...

Question for Bob. Have you ever heard or read Dwight D Eisenhower's Farewell Address from January 17th, 1961?

I'd highly recommend it, if you haven't. Remember, this is the man who led the Normandy invasion in 1944. He was a General in the Army, and a Republican... he would know better than just about anyone, the corrupting power between the state and the weapons industry.

Mon Dec 12, 03:38:00 AM CST

Blogger Bill said...

"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity." -Dwight D Eisenhower

"All of us have heard this term 'preventative war' since the earliest days of Hitler. I recall that is about the first time I heard it. In this day and time... I don't believe there is such a thing; and, frankly, I wouldn't even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing." -Dwight D Eisenhower

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. [...] Is there no other way the world may live?" -Dwight D Eisenhower

Mon Dec 12, 03:48:00 AM CST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The instrument of war, is protecting the human need for defense and security. Example given. Poland. Hitler. Are you saying Bill that perhaps Poland should not have spent any money on the defense of their people? What about police protection? Should the government spend money to police it's own citizens and pay for lethal weapons such as guns?

Mon Dec 12, 04:13:00 PM CST

Blogger Bill said...

As World War I turned into trench warfare, the only reason the Treaty of Versaille happened (at least the way it did) was because the United States entered the War in 1917, thus turning the tables in an otherwise unwinnable stalemate. As a result, Germany during the 1920s was under a huge debt burden, and unbelievable hyper-inflation, economic collapse, etc... thus setting the stage for Hitler to take power, and end the economic collapse, turning Germany into a super power again, through extreme nationalistic politics. For Poland to protect itself, would have required a leader equivilent to Hitler. But none of this would have happened if not for Wilson getting the US involved in the Great War.

I don't believe the police in any way protect us. They are no different than any organized gang of thugs running around, coercing people into obeying their authority, and causing more crime than they prevent. The police are the biggest criminals of all. Nation-states have killed in excess of 100 million people in the last century alone, which pales in comparison to the number killed by common street criminals.

What about Crime?

For example, anarchists do not think it unusual nor unexpected that crime exploded under the pro-free market capitalist regimes of Thatcher and Reagan. Crime, the most obvious symptom of social crisis, took 30 years to double in Britain (from 1 million incidents in 1950 to 2.2 million in 1979). However, between 1979 and 1992 the crime rate more than doubled, exceeding the 5 million mark in 1992. These 13 years were marked by a government firmly committed to the "free market" and "individual responsibility." It was entirely predictable that the social disruption, atomisation of individuals, and increased poverty caused by freeing capitalism from social controls would rip society apart and increase criminal activity. Also unsurprisingly (from an anarchist viewpoint), under these pro-market governments we also saw a reduction in civil liberties, increased state centralisation, and the destruction of local government. As Malatesta put it, the classical liberalism which these governments represented could have had no other effect, for "the government's powers of repression must perforce increase as free competition results in more discord and inequality." [Anarchy, p. 46]

Hence the paradox of governments committed to "individual rights," the "free market" and "getting the state off our backs" increasing state power and reducing rights while holding office during a crime explosion is no paradox at all. "The conjuncture of the rhetoric of individual freedom and a vast increase in state power," argues Carole Pateman, "is not unexpected at a time when the influence of contract doctrine is extending into the last, most intimate nooks and crannies of social life. Taken to a conclusion, contract undermines the conditions of its own existence. Hobbes showed long ago that contract -- all the way down -- requires absolutism and the sword to keep war at bay." [The Sexual Contract, p. 232]

Capitalism, and the contract theory on which it is built, will inevitably rip apart society. Capitalism is based upon a vision of humanity as isolated individuals with no connection other than that of money and contract. Such a vision cannot help but institutionalise anti-social acts. As Kropotkin argued "it is not love and not even sympathy upon which Society is based in mankind. It is the conscience -- be it only at the stage of an instinct -- of human solidarity. It is the unconscious recognition of the force that is borrowed by each man [and woman] from the practice of mutual aid; of the close dependency of every one's happiness upon the happiness of all; and of the sense of justice, or equity, which brings the individual to consider the rights of every other individual as equal to his [or her] own." [Mutual Aid, p. 16]

The social atomisation required and created by capitalism destroys the basic bonds of society - namely human solidarity - and hierarchy crushes the individuality required to understand that we share a common humanity with others and so understand why we must be ethical and respect others rights.

Mon Dec 12, 07:59:00 PM CST

Anonymous Ryan S said...


I'm glad you remembered that Town Hall article and linked to it. It was one of the best articles I read earlier last year.

Tue Dec 13, 01:05:00 AM CST

Blogger Mark Murphy said...

Financial aid for real majors (hard science, engineering, etc.) is an interesting idea.

It pains me to think of the amount of tax money wasted on educating students in women's studies, afro-american studies, blah blah blah... outrageous.

Tue Dec 13, 10:43:00 AM CST

Blogger Bill said...

And while we're at it, Mark, we can cut financial aid for all the Economics majors (since Economics is a social science, just like what all the ones you listed above) and all the Business majors (since they don't produce anything, they just leach off the labor of others by shuffling around money)

Sound like a plan? Oh wait... THATS YOUR MAJORS!! haha.

The purpose of education is to expand your mind, teach you to learn for yourself, and expose you to new ideas. Essentially what you are telling me that people should be punished for pursing certain fields of study, since those fields don't immediately serve some economically useful purpose (by your measuring stick, that they don't serve the capitalist power structure, in my above case, that they don't serve the needs of society)

Wed Dec 14, 03:02:00 AM CST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Bill,

My understanding is that crime is caused by society. In order to prevent crime from happening we must reform society in order to prevent crime. However, this does not seem realistic or practicle. Do you believe that we can totally reform society to stop crime? Wouldn't there be always someone who would want to take advantage of any type of system or society to hurt other people? How do we help those who are unable to defend themselves?

Wed Dec 14, 12:32:00 PM CST

Blogger Bill said...


I don't totally agree with the way the Infoshop FAQ puts it. Whats important in there, is the statistics regarding the effects of neo-liberal policies on crime, and the realization how Capitalism, the social isolation & alienation created by it, is the underlying cause of anti-social acts (i.e. crime)

However, the thing which the FAQ totally fails to point out, is this: The state IS crime, and that crime is the neccessary condition for the very existance of the state.

Let me ask you this: If there were a gang of criminals going around coercing, murdering, and violating people, do you think we should try to stop that gang of criminals?

If you answered yes, then you understand why I am opposed to the state, because it is simply the gang of criminals that happened to outnumber and out-gun all the rest. It protects those who DO take advantage of the system (the system being Capital, the exploitation happening via corporations, and the ruling class being the burgiouse) The State hurts people, murders people, and has inequality built into its very essence -- that some people hold power and the rest do not.

I am trying to defend those who are unable to defend themselves, with my activism and politics -- the homeless, the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Colobmia, the poor, minorities, and of course, the working-class who are wage-slaves, eternally at the mercy of capital (until we organize as a class to demand direct democratic control over the wealth which we create through our labor -- thats Socialism)

If we want to help those who are unable to defend themselves, we need to build institutions of popular control, in which every person has an equal say, rather than in which only those with money and power have a say (i.e. the State) Grassroots struggle is the only way this can happen, as well as supporting co-ops, communes, collectives, and other non-authoritarian methods of social & economic organizing.

I have a challenge for you (and its going to seem somewhat off-topic at first, but you'll understand why once I explain my position) -- Define the underlying meaning of the political LEFT and RIGHT.

I'm not asking for specific positions or issues, but a simple & systematic approach to understanding the philosophy of the Left vs the Right. There is no right or wrong answer, but I will tell you my answer after I hear some others.

Wed Dec 14, 06:11:00 PM CST

Blogger BadgerZach said...

Okay. First of all Bill, while your posts could be seen as enlightening (it's a stretch) or interesting, they are totally irrelevenat to the topic of this post. Thanks for the social commentary, however. The difference between the state and a gang with big guns is that in most cases, the people don't elect the gang with big guns.

Moving on to more relevant topics, this is an interesting topic. I think another aspect of why cutting Financial Aid might not be such a bad idea is supply and demand. Right now, there is a huge supply of higher education. There's also a huge demand, because EVERYONE who can get into college wants to go, and EVERYONE who can get into college and fill in boxes can get enough Financial aid to go. Despite the large supply, demand is higher. Lowering the ammount of Financial Aid would decrease demand (only because people wouldn't be able to afford it). While the libs like to call the results here that "only rich white people will go to college," let me pose this question. Could America's institutions of higher education fill their positions, and maintain their reputations, with only the rich white people going? No. In order for universities to remain solvent, and in order for a degree from them to carry the meaning it does now, they would have to decrease thier price. I'm not saying Financial Aid should be totally eliminated, but allowing states, not the Feds, to control that money might not be a bad idea. When people (particularly non-rich white folks) apply to private colleges, a huge factor is the Financial Aid offered by the UNIVERSITY on top of the federal aid. The reality is, however, that Federal Aid is high enough to make that additional requirement nonexistent for students at most public universities. Schools only have to compete for quality of education, not for low cost, because they know that their students can find aid elsewhere. Eliminating Federal Aid would require schools that want to recruit the best students (regardless of economic class) to either lower tuition or have a Financial Aid office that does something other than hand out federal aid applications.

Furthermore, being a poli sci and international studies major, I was at first apalled by your idea to specifically fund the hard sciences. I think that by adding some majors, or certain circumstances, to the list, the idea could come to something useful. The examples given by Mark all have something in common that econ and business definitely don't have, and that sociology, poli sci and international studies SHOULDN'T have but often do. Often these classes DON'T expose anybody to new ideas. New information to memorize yes. New terminology, yes. Bu in reality, liberal students major in traditionally liberal fields. They go into women's studies with a very strong feminist perspective. They come out with a more informed strong feminist perspective. Other than in passing, however, how many are really exposed to the ALTERNATIVES to a feminist outlook.

An example is this. Although liberalism and constructivism are rising as schools of political thought, they are still equal to, or less than, realism in influence. Why is it that Mearsheimer and friends' earliest works are often read at the begining of a semester in poli sci classes. Then the class moves onto Keohane and company's rebutals of the realist perspective. The only time that realism or Mearsheimer are mentioned outside of the context as something which liberals can disprove is often Mearsheimer's realist perspective against the war.

So let me get this straight. People would claim that it is an exposure to new ideas for college students to go into a classroom, hear the dominant conservative political perspective refuted by the dominant liberal political perspectives, only to reappear as once again a legitimate (although already refuted) political perspective when it is used to argue a traditionally liberal viewpoint, criticizing the current Conservative administration? Yes, people would. Especially in this city.

The reality of it is that certain fields of study lead to political indoctrination, especially when taught by the profession which, with perhaps the exception of the media, is generally viewed as one of the most liberal in the country. Professors in Women's Studies, Afro Am, and even Political Science and Sociology departments present the same facts to support the same perspectives over and over again. That is not braodening of horizons, and it sure as hell isn't exposure to new ideas.

Sun Dec 18, 04:25:00 AM CST

Blogger Bill said...


I never elected the police who rule over me. The state is defined as a monopoly on the legitimate use of force over a given geographic area. Key thing here -- it is a MONOPOLY, and its use of force is considered "LEGITIMATE." I do not believe that the initiation of force is ever legitimate, except in self-defense or revolution to overthrow tryanny.

I just find it funny how you criticize the social sciences for a supposed liberal bias... of course they are going to be liberal, in the broadest sense, as education itself is meant to be a liberal endeveour. Its not like they are teaching Marxism, Anarchism, or other leftist ideologies as truth. They are teaching the pursuit of certain academic ideals.

The ONLY class I have taken with a clear political bias was Econ 101 & 102 (and economics IS a part of the Social Sciences, just like Womens Studies, Afro American Studies, and Poli Sci) My experiences in the Poli Sci dept left me fairly alienated from it. It seemed like a very narrow field of study, because its teaching the cold political realities of state power, as if they are good things, and then training the students to be campaign managers or government buerocrats. I've never taken a Business class, but I can sure bet you that the Business dept is even worse.

The whole thing about cutting financial aid for certain fields of study wasn't my idea, nor was I seriously advocating it. I was just making fun of Mark.

Sun Dec 18, 07:56:00 PM CST


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