The Hill: College regs raising the cost of tuition, GOP says

Posted on February 24, 2015

College regulations may make the cost of obtaining an education more expensive for students, Republicans say. 

“How many billions of dollars could we save if we reduced the administrative burden?” Senate Education Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) asked Tuesday during a hearing on education reform.

During the hearing, the senators discussed a new report that found colleges and universities around the country are facing excessive regulations.

The regulatory costs are, in turn, passed down to students in the form of higher tuition, Alexander said.

Alexander called for Congress and the Department of Education to “weed the garden” of these excessive regulations.

He pointed to a study from Vanderbilt University that found the school pays $150 million each year to comply with federal rules and regulations.

That cost alone has raised the prices of tuition by $11,000 per student, according to the study.

“America’s 6,000 colleges and universities live in a jungle of red tape that is expensive and confusing and unnecessary,” Alexander said.

But colleges are not the only ones facing intense regulations, said Alexander, who pointed out that many students are deterred from applying for financial aid, because they must answer 108 questions.

“Just two questions would tell the Department of Education 95 percent of what it needs to know to determine a student’s eligibility for a grant or loan,” Alexander said.

Meanwhile, Democrats signaled a willingness to work with Republicans to reduce the cost of a college education, but they said such reforms should not remove important protections for students and faculty.

“Today, more and more students and families are dealing with the crushing burden of student debt,” said Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), the top Democrat on the committee. 

“Colleges and universities should be accountable for high-quality outcomes that don’t leave students with debt they struggle to repay,” she added.