An open letter to Congress appearing in The New York Times and The Washington Post yesterday joined what is quickly becoming a chorus of voices asking for financial aid for higher education institutions. The letter, which was put together by the Carnegie Foundation, was signed by over 40 higher education officials, including leaders of several state university systems. The letter requests that Congress devote 5 percent of the next stimulus package to improving higher education infrastructure, namely state colleges.
Leaders argue that the infusion of cash into state university systems will help keep America competitive on a global scale, noting that for the first time ever, the segment of the population between 25 and 34 years of age is not as well-educated than the previous generation. The letter argues that construction and renovation projects are an important first step for colleges and universities that want to remain competitive, and that these projects would immediately generate jobs for displaced workers. While the signers recommend applying the money towards infrastructure, they suggest that it be given to states in the form of block grants that would supplement state education budgets, leaving open the possibility of other forms of spending.
This follows two other proposals for higher education's inclusion in stimulus packages. Both other proposals called specifically for increases in student financial aid. While this proposal doesn't do that, it may help prevent some tuition increases and discourage state budget cuts that would negatively impact the ability of public college students to pay for school.