Could Federal Aid Really Control the Cost of College?

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — When Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave a mysterious statement on August 20 about the latest NPSAS report one could conceivably ask - is there anybody home at the Department of Education?

Some are beginning to wonder.

NSPAS is the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study. It examines the demographics of college students - particularly how they finance their education.

"The findings in the latest NPSAS report confirm the important role of federal financial aid in providing students with the opportunity to pursue higher education," Duncan said. "Federal grants and loans help students realize the American dream, opening the door to opportunity for students who would never be able to get a college education without financial support."

Duncan also said that more federal grants are being used to pay for college. He paid the obligatory paean to "President Obama's leadership" for expanding the Pell Grant program. He noted that this program provides billions of dollars a year in federal aid to low-income students. The number of Pell Grant recipients has increased more than 50% since 2008.


Then he made this claim which must be the ultimate non sequitur or a faux pas - in an administration that has had more than its share of both.

"But the data also shows that increasing federal student aid alone will not control the cost of college," Duncan said.

Increasing federal aid does not control the cost of college? There are reams of data indicating that increasing federal aid is precisely the reason colleges costs have increased.

"All of us share responsibility for ensuring that college is affordable," he said. "The NPSAS report is a reminder that we need state policymakers and individual colleges and universities to do their part in taking action against rising college tuition. Together we can take collective action to help make college more accessible, affordable, and attainable for middle class Americans across the country."