Education stimulus overlooks higher education

By By Sabriel Harris

By Sabriel Harris

Education has snagged $105.9 billion in the recent stimulus package, but most of that money is not going toward higher education.

K-12 schools have become the main focus for funding, leaving universities and their students to flounder in student loans and inadequate financial aid. Sure, the stimulus is doing good for millions of school districts and public school systems, but higher education is being given the shaft.

Utah is receiving a 9 percent funding reduction in higher education, while other states have money to spare in public schooling systems. For instance, Wyoming K-12 public schools will receive $400 more per student than those in Utah, according to the federal Department of Education. Washington, D.C., is using various formulas to distribute the money to benefit states that spend more per pupil, states with large communities of poor students or those that just focus on populations. But these formulas don’t seem to account for who needs the money most.

Although the bill includes hefty increases in the main federal college scholarship program, these will barely put a dent in the student loan debt in the United States, where half of all undergraduate students took out student loans, at an average of $6,200 each. The total price of attendance (tuition, room and board and other expenses) for a full-time undergraduate student at a public four-year university is $15,200 ($5,400 just in tuition and fees), according to a 2003-2004 study by the National Center for Education Statistics.

“Because we know America can’t outcompete the world tomorrow if our children are being out-educated today, we’re making the largest investment in education in our nation’s history,” said President Barack Obama in a February speech. “It’s an investment that will create jobs building 21st century classrooms and libraries and labs for millions of children across America. It’ll provide funds to train a new generation of math and science teachers, while giving aid to states and school districts to stop teachers from being laid off and education programs from being cut.”

Obama is education-friendly, something this country hasn’t seen in a long time. But even while the president is doing a lot more for the school systems than anyone else in recent history, more could be done for higher education. This stimulus has been a disappointment to college education in the middle-class United States, higher education has been neglected in this nation-changing bill. We need more attention paid to our universities to carry on the high level of education which seems to be imminent in our K-12 school systems.

The country should focus on the people who can immediately change our economic status and the future of our country. University students are our future, and change starts with them. Investing in university students is the same as investing in next year’s workforce. Our universities deserve more money.

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