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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Jerry Jackson: Refreshing news in higher education

  • All of us are aware of ridiculous requirements by the federal government if you accept government funds.
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  • Recently a famous football coach, after suffering a string of lop-sided defeats, was asked by a reporter what he thought of his team’s execution.  Quickly he replied, “I’m all for it”.  If you are a Razorback football fan, you might have some sympathy with this comment.
    Moving on to more pleasant subjects or at least something outside the sports world, it is refreshing to see significant progress in the field of higher education.  For several years Hillsdale College is leading the way and a number of colleges and universities are following.
    Hillsdale College is fiercely independent and part of their philosophy is not to accept any federal or state assistance.  Instead the college offers private assistance through its own student independence grant and loan program.  Okay, you might say, “so what’s the big deal about this?”
    This is why it’s a big deal not only to the participants at Hillsdale College but you and me who are taxpayers and facing a staggering 16 trillion national debt and increasing this amount 110 billion every month.
    All of us are aware of ridiculous requirements by the federal government if you accept government funds.  Hillsdale College can simply reply to those bureaucrats that search through 6,000 pages of how to play our game – go fish!  The Federal Pell Grant Program costs our country 36 billion in 2010 and is increasing rapidly each year.  This program takes up more than one-half the Department of Education’s budget.
    In June of this year Mr. Obama touted the success of Pell Grants and boasted that his administration has expanded the program to three million more students.  Just as what happens in any government hand-out program and as reported in The Wall Street Journal an increasing number of Pell Grants are going not to just the needy but to those who are classified as better-off students.  In fact 60 percent of Pell grant recipients in 2010 were financially independent of their parents.  These better-off students often receive the large Pell grants and apply them to the more expensive schools.
    Long ago universities learned how to capture this extra cash and adjust upward their price schedules.  These billions in grants and loans contribute significantly to the ever higher tuition spiral.  The numbers of students graduating or dropping out are entering this cruel world with a staggering amount of student loans.
    This brings to mind a proposal that I suggested to decrease the hardship to students and to decrease the high rate of defaults that increase the federal deficit.  Why not have the college or university be a guarantee on these loans.  Instead of soaking up this federal money like a sponge, these colleges would have an incentive to screen these loan recipients to determine if they are needy and a good risk.
    Page 2 of 2 - To repeat, Hillsdale College students are not allowed to accept Pell grants or any other federal or state grants or loans.  But that is not the factor that makes this college such a leader in quality education.  Hillsdale has a ledger that is outstanding in accepting quality student applicants, a low ratio of students to faculty, a 97 percent placement of graduates six months after graduation and other measurement criteria for quality in their 1,400 students.
    So who is the leader of this institution that has such a prolific record of graduating future leaders and is becoming a model for other educational entities?  No other than a fellow Arkansan, Larry Arnn.  This graduate of ASU has become a national leader in promoting education that makes sense and is not a drag or dependent on federal funds.
    Hillsdale is showing leadership in other aspects of community service.
    This year Hillsdale’s free online course was offered to the general public presented as “Constitution 101:  The Meaning and History of the Constitution”.  Starting next year a ten session course called “Constitution 210” will be offered.  This course will be taught by Dr.Arnn and other Hillsdale professors at no cost.  It will examine American progressivism, its rejection of America’s founding principles and the constitution and the ongoing political debate between progressives and conservatives.
    For those alarmed at the ignorance of so many college graduates on financial issues, it is reassuring to know Hillsdale requires all its graduates to have at least one economic course.  This is an oasis in a desert of economic instruction.
    If your child, grandchild or friend is considering a higher education where they will not be bombarded by liberal trash, consider an institution such as Hillsdale College.  Here students learn about this country and the real world not subjects such as complete diversification, transgender civil rights, social justice and the evils of corporate America.
    (Jerry Jackson of Heber Springs writes his “conservative viewpoint” column each Wednesday)

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