Money for the middle class

John Kerry’s tax-credit plan to help poor kids go to college is a middle-class entitlement that ignores the real problem: Few low-income students are prepared for four-year colleges. So argue Jay P. Greene and Greg Forster of the Manhattan Institute.

Kerry proposes a $4,000 refendable tax credit for college tuition. Families that owe less than $4,000 in taxes would get a check from the IRS. Greene and Forster writes:

Kerry could jack up his tax credit to $40,000 a year and it wouldn’t increase the number of low-income students who attend college by more than a tiny fraction.

Remember that a kid needs a lot more than money to go to college. He needs to meet a set of minimum academic standards that are required by virtually all four-year colleges before they will even look at his application.

Just about every student who meets these academic standards already goes to college, regardless of income level. That’s because financial aid and other policies have already expanded college access to the point where even poor kids are able to enroll if they qualify academically. The kids who don’t meet these standards couldn’t go to college no matter how much money you gave them.

Kerry’s plan would provide a financial break to parents whose children already are going to college. That’s nice, but it doesn’t increase the pool of college-ready students.

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  1. mike from oregon says:

    Let’s add to this problem (solution??) the question, “Where are we going to get the money for this??”.

    Of course, since it’s Kerry talking, he doesn’t/won’t address that problem, he just promises everything to everyone and then asks for your vote.

  2. Mike,

    He’ll get it from our ‘friends’ in Germany and France. (or maybe he got it when he was in Cambodia…)

  3. Rod McFadden says:

    Well now, let’s see. If I’m paying $4,000/year for tuition now (hah! I wish), and — post Kerry — the college jacks the price up to $6,000/year, my out of pocket has still decreased by a couple of grand.

    In other words, there’s nothing like giving colleges an incentive to boost prices.

  4. Given the significant pro-Kerry slant of most universities, perhaps this isn’t an accident? After all, Kerry pays of a big constituency (sp?) with our tax dollars, everyone is happy…


  5. John from OK says:

    Al Gore proposed something similar 4 years ago. Lieberman described it in the VP debate as “something we’re very excited about.” I didn’t know that spending billions of dollars of other peoples money could be so exciting.

  6. John from OK says:

    And I second Rod’s comment. Simple economics – when the goverment increases the demand, the price increases; tuition and health care being my prime examples.

  7. Why oh why do we keep insisting on “increasing the pool of college-ready students?” Read the stats! Most jobs aren’t going to college grads — they’re going to high-school educated students and voc-tech grads. We need to be much more realistic with our students — not try to send all of them to college where it’s taking them longer and longer to graduate (average is closing in on SIX years) and when they do finally graduate they’re in debt up to their eyeballs.

  8. mike from oregon says:

    You forgot, that also when they graduate (with all that debt – cause they’re not smart enough to figure out how to do it without debt – and there ARE ways), quite a few of them graduate with either a degree that they can’t get a job with, or they don’t want to work in the field that they got the degree in.

    It’s amazing.