Spending critics forget student loans
Conservatives from Newt Gingrich to the College Republicans speak out against government handouts and demand welfare reform. These outspoken critics are anxious to stop everyone else's benefits.

But most of these conservatives display a major inconsistency in their belief system. Often the same students who abhor welfare and spit at the mention of socialized health care have no complaints against federally subsidized student loans and federal grants -- programs that reek of socialism and government control.

It's hypocritical for any conservative to denounce one set of freebies while greedily accepting another.

Most Aggies are familiar with the conservative arguments against welfare or food stamps. These programs steal from the rich to support the poor, the subsidy recipients aren't encouraged to take care of themselves and the handouts eventually hurt the very people they aim to help by fostering dependency and low self-esteem.

Student grants and loans cause all these problems and more.

Federal money for education is still a government handout. Besides fostering dependency on the program, these subsidies cause other problems as well.

The increase in loans and grants has allowed universities to raise costs more rapidly. If students still paid for their education from their own pocketbooks, schools would have to be more accountable. As loans and grants become more commonplace, schools with higher costs can still consider themselves "affordable."

Currently A&M finished the largest fund-raising drive in the history of higher education, is requesting an extra $1 billion from the legislature and is still increasing student fees.

Federal and private loans both have the added disadvantage of saddling students with debt. Now as graduates leave the University to pursue families and careers they must worry about the thousands of dollars they owe.

Dr. Walter Williams, an economist and professor at George Mason University, maintains too many students are seeking degrees. Williams also argues it is immoral for citizens to pay for someone else's education.

The Legislative Relations committee under the Student Government Association regularly lobbies the state legislator for more money. Legislative Relations has asked legislators to support a program that would use state lottery money to pay for the college education of students who maintain a B' average or better. This proposal would take close to 70 million dollars a year from the general budget. This money would have to be made up in taxes or budget cuts.

Proponents of government subsidies for education point out people with degrees make more money and contribute to the economy. Unfortunately, at the time a student enters college the government cannot be sure whether they will become a millionaire or one of the 50% of Texas college students who drop out before earning a degree. By giving a grant or subsidizing a loan, the government is taking a gamble with tax money. The investment may cause economic growth or it may be lost forever. These programs are not as beneficial as their proponents claim since half of student loan recipients never pay them back.

If the federal government got out of the education business, the world would not end. Young people would still be able to go to college, if they decided a degree was necessary. Enormous amounts of private money every year provide scholarships and even those evil loans.

Of course, Aggies could also get money the "old-fashioned way" -- by earning it. It's possible to put one's self through school by working, and the armed forces still offer college money in exchange for a few years serving the country.

Sure, without government intervention it may take longer to graduate, but students will likely have better work experience and no looming cloud of debt. Besides, taxpayer money wouldn't pay for silly elective classes or football tickets.