ND Senate Pumps A Little More Air Into The Higher Ed Bubble


One of the biggest mistakes we’ve made as a nation is assuming that subsidizing tuition – be it through low-interest, government-backed loans or grants and scholarships – would help make higher education more affordable. That’s not the case. The more money the government makes available to subsidize tuition, the higher tuition goes.

So what the North Dakota state Senate just did in making more scholarship money available for college-bound students isn’t helping the students. It’s making the campuses, and the higher education bureaucrats, a little richer.

BISMARCK — This year’s high school graduates might be able to receive more scholarship money through the state’s Merit Based Scholarship program.

Senate lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2222 unanimously Friday, which would appropriate $3.7 million for the 2013-15 biennium and $8.8 million for the 2015-17 biennium.

The bill would raise the amount of money per student from $750 to $1,250 per semester and raise the program’s maximum allowance from $6,000 to $10,000.

The program requires a student to receive an ACT score of 29 or higher, take a list of required courses and maintain a 2.75 GPA.

“It will help keep students on pace with inflation and pay a larger share of tuition and fees,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo. “It establishes a system of rigor and rewards and the money follows the students.”

Merit scholarships aren’t the worst offense in this regard, but we’re far past the time when we have to admit that the more money we make available to subsidize tuition only serves to inflate the amount of tuition the universities charge. We’re distorting the market, and we’re hurting the students.