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.