A Modest Proposal for Education Reform

 

Almost apologetically, the university dean stepped into the bursar’s office. “The mail’s here.” He handed over the now familiar form.

The bursar closed his eyes for a moment. “That’s the fourth one this week.”

“And it’s only Wednesday,” replied the dean. “But this is just a bachelor’s degree, so it will only cost us a couple of hundred thousand.”

“Curse you, Aaron Montgomery Ward,” sighed the bursar.

America’s universities were struggling to adjust to the federal Department of Education’s new policy, which was based on Montgomery Ward’s principle of “satisfaction guaranteed or your money back.”

The new policy was simple but radical. Any former students who were unsatisfied with their degrees were now allowed to surrender them in exchange for a full refund of tuition. If the tuition had been paid through government loans, then the government received the refunds and the students were unburdened of their debts. Similarly, any grants or scholarships were returned to the organizations from which they came.

The academic records of those who chose a refund were simply erased.

The same option was extended to students who had not completed a degree, and who decided to exchange their academic records for refunds. This included many students whose poor high school education left them unable to meet the demands of college.

Both the dean and the bursar had argued against the new policy when it was still being considered. The dean pointed out that any graduates receiving a refund would still have diplomas as proof of their education.

A federal official responded that nothing can be counterfeited as easily as a diploma. This is why employers, graduate schools and licensure boards routinely request such documentation from colleges directly. A diploma only proves that someone has access to a printer.

In a Senate committee hearing, the bursar had argued that anyone receiving a refund would, in effect, be receiving a free education. One senator responded in mock surprise with “Maybe THAT’S why you have a tax exemption!”

In a last-ditch attempt to stifle the policy, several universities announced that they would simply refuse to agree to it. The Department of Education conceded it had no authority to force the policy on any institution. But any school that declined to participate would also forgo its participation in federal student aid programs.

Tapping his keyboard, the bursar brought up the student’s financial record and winced. “What was this one’s major?” he asked.

The dean shrugged. “It was another one of those ‘studies’ majors – gender or race or something. If this keeps up, we may have to shrink those departments.”

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There are 11 comments.

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  1. EODmom Coolidge
    EODmom
    @EODmom

    Bingo – and failing that update, tax all endowments. 

    • #1
  2. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    I think that any student who has his loan forgiven by Biden should at the least have to give his diploma back. He will of course retain all of that glorious knowledge he received from all those long hours walking through the groves with Socrates, but if he can’t pay the bill, the diploma at least should be repossessed.

    • #2
  3. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Just put the colleges on the hook for the student loans. If the (student) borrower defaults, he gets all the negative things that normally follow from abandoning a debt. But the college then has to pay it back. 

    Forcing the colleges, all of them, to put skin in the game would solve a lot of problems. Not just the student loan issue.

    • #3
  4. DonG (CAGW is a Scam) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Scam)
    @DonG

    I like it, but somehow, I feel like my tax dollars will be doubled.   Like this:
    Sam Tripoli | Basically the Fed funds all sides! | Instagram

    • #4
  5. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    DonG (CAGW is a Scam) (View Comment):

    I like it, but somehow, I feel like my tax dollars will be doubled. Like this:
    Sam Tripoli | Basically the Fed funds all sides! | Instagram

    Well, some of our tax dollars go to the civilization with the anti-missile defense, and some go to the primitives that launch the missiles. So, yeah. 

    • #5
  6. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    But, fair is fair.  Any student who uses a refunded education to advance their job etc, goes to prison.

    • #6
  7. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    or get the federal government out of the loan business 

     

    • #7
  8. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    I enjoyed KCK’s vignette.  The main problem with higher ed finances is that the incentives are all out of wack.  Anyone who can solve this problem can also solve the problem of the national debt.  

    • #8
  9. KCK Member
    KCK
    @KCK

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    I enjoyed KCK’s vignette. The main problem with higher ed finances is that the incentives are all out of wack. Anyone who can solve this problem can also solve the problem of the national debt.

    Vignettes are fun. One day I hope to write a full-size vign.

    • #9
  10. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    I enjoyed KCK’s vignette. The main problem with higher ed finances is that the incentives are all out of wack. Anyone who can solve this problem can also solve the problem of the national debt.

    National debt seems easier:  Don’t spend more than you take in.

    There.  Done.

    • #10
  11. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    kedavis (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    I enjoyed KCK’s vignette. The main problem with higher ed finances is that the incentives are all out of wack. Anyone who can solve this problem can also solve the problem of the national debt.

    National debt seems easier: Don’t spend more than you take in.

    There. Done.

    What about the hordes outside your office door and window who are armed with pitchforks and torches, and backed up by armored military vehicles?  How do you propose to get out alive?  

    • #11
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