August 30, 2022
The latest bill targeting wealthy colleges and universities would require those with endowments over $1 billion—around 136 public and private colleges nationwide—to cover a certain percentage of all students’ cost of attendance.
The Changing Our Learning, Loans, Endowments, and Graduation Expectations (COLLEGE) Act was introduced in the Senate at the beginning of August by Republican senator Rick Scott from Florida.
Under the bill, colleges with endowments that are $10 billion or greater, including Harvard University, the University of Texas and Yale and Stanford Universities, to name a few, would be required to cover 75 percent of students’ tuition, regardless of whether students are high or low income. Colleges with endowments between $5 billion and $10 billion would be required to cover 50 percent, and those with endowments between $1 billion and $5 billion would cover 25 percent. These colleges enroll many students who don’t need the money; many of their students don’t receive need-based aid.
“For far too long, state and federal leaders have taken a misguided and failed approach to managing public institutions of higher education. The result of their decades of failed policy and mismanagement is millions of Americans with mountains of student debt racked up earning degrees that haven’t prepared them for good, high-paying job in the real world,” Scott said in a press release about the bill.
A spokesperson for Scott said that the bill would require wealthy colleges to “have some skin in the game” by using their endowments to help cover the cost of attendance for all students.
However, universities are largely restricted on how they can spend their endowment funding—much depends on donor requests. As a result, the bill would effectively create what Steven Bloom, assistant vice president of government relations at the American Council on Education, described as a government price control on the cost of attendance for wealthy private and public universities.