…and the insidious trap that it is. Some states are increasingly shifting the funds they offer for college tuition assistance toward merit awards and away from simple economic need. Georgia, for instance, calls one of its programs HOPE—Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally. The Wall Street Journal says
In its 19 years, the program has given out $4.9 billion in merit-based aid to 710,000 in-state students.
Here’s the kicker, though [emphasis added]:
Sarah Beck, a University of Georgia junior, is a typical recipient. She says her mother, a teacher, and her father, who worked as a nuclear engineer, didn’t have to worry about saving for college because “we knew HOPE would be waiting for me.”
No personal responsibility or commitment at all. Just use OPM. She’s not at all alone in this trap, though:
[S]ome students at her school arrive with new cars, paid for by parents who didn’t have to pay tuition. The cars are known as “Hope-mobiles.”
Unneeded cars, paid for with the benefit of OPM.
Critics of the move decry the loss of funding for low income students who don’t measure up academically.
Shannon McGhee, the associate director of financial planning at Mercer University, [says] African-American and Hispanic students are most likely to benefit from need-based plans because “they have not necessarily had the same educational opportunities as their white peers.”
This may be a valid beef, but her solution is wrong. Throwing college money at these students will not give them the educational opportunities that already have passed them by. It will not make up for that lost ground and make these students academically qualified (much less meritoriously so) for college. The appropriate solution to this shortfall is to improve the educational system in the K-12 arena so all students are competing on the same ground.
But that would take away from “welfare” spending.