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Playing Politics with Higher Education

March 23, 2017

The announcement that President Trump will give the Commencement Address at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia on May 13 is another sign that the Trump White House is playing politics with American higher education while betraying education consumers.

The decision of the President not to nominate executives requiring Senate confirmation to head key Departments of the U.S. Department of Education leaves the Department vulnerable to charges of self-dealing by “advisors” who report to the White House who have not been publicly vetted.

Several advisors at the U.S. Department of Education have ties to education companies, or their lobby, who will benefit from a roll back of Obama Administration regulations directed against for-profit education. But, because they are not appointed to serve after Senate confirmation, what they do or recommend is unknown to the public.

And, Liberty University president, Jerry Falwell, Jr., has been chosen to lead a higher education Task Force for the Administration. That decision was made months ago but announced only recently and there is no information about the composition of Falwell’s Task Force, or what it plans to do.

Because regional accreditation of institutions like Liberty University and access to Title IV subsidized loans and grant programs are the principal reason for the high cost of college tuition, it is unlikely that Falwell will follow my recommendation that President Trump should reduce Title IV funding by distributing 50% of annual Title IV funding to the States in Block grants.

Liberty’s regional accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and its authorization to offer programs for degree credit by the State Higher Education Council for Virginia (SCHEV) protect Liberty from low cost providers who can compete successfully with Liberty’s successful online programs simply by offering degree programs at low cost.

For example, tuition for three credits of online instruction at Liberty University  are priced at $870. The use of new technologies can reduce the cost of online courses for two years of college (20 courses) to $1,000, if appropriate changes in regulations are made.

In other words, President Trump is colluding with the education Establishment to protect its material interests and appealing to Evangelical Christians for support while stiffing long suffering education consumers who are compelled to go into debt to pay high tuition costs.

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