Presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) called for reductions in federal funding for higher education Wednesday, saying that support should be transferred to states instead. The Daily Iowan, the University of Iowa’s student newspaper, reports:
Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said Wednesday that the federal government should reduce higher-education funding and leave that support to states.
Speaking to Kirkwood Community College officials and eastern Iowa business leaders on the Kirkwood campus on the fourth day of a tour around the state, the GOP presidential nomination-hopeful said colleges ought to partner with local businesses to prep grads for the workforce.
Santorum is apparently ignoring the reality facing many states, which have reduced funding for state colleges and universities in the face of growing budget deficits. In California, for example, legislators slashed millions of dollars from the University of California and California State systems, forcing those schools to raise tuition. As Washington Monthly noted today, public universities in 11 states saw their states reduce support by more than 5 percent this year.
While Santorum wants federal benefit reductions, tuition is skyrocketing across the country, and the amount of student debt accrued during a four-year degree program continues to increase. At Penn State University, Santorum’s alma mater, the average graduate in the class of 2007 left the university with more than $26,000 in debt.
Cutting federal support for public colleges and universities may sound like a good idea in Santorum’s small government world, but those cuts will inevitably get passed down to states — and, more importantly, to students — who are already falling behind an increasingly expensive higher education system.