What a great idea. They’ve done such a good job so far, haven’t they?

Michael Stratford reports at Inside Higher Ed.

A Bigger Federal Role

Hillary Clinton’s higher education plan announced Monday highlights the growing consensus among Democrats on how to tackle rising tuition: send federal money to states that agree, in return, to lower or eliminate tuition at their public colleges — and enact other reforms.

Clinton’s proposal to provide grants to states that promise to create no-loan tuition plans for students at public, four-year institutions follows similar plans by fellow candidates Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, as well as the progressive hero (and current noncandidate) Senator Elizabeth Warren. It also comes after the Obama administration has proposed a similar approach to making community college tuition-free, which Clinton has adopted as part of her plan.

Aside from the price tags — Clinton’s would cost $350 billion over the next decade, her campaign said — these proposals would also significantly expand the federal government’s role in financing higher education.

Proponents see that as a welcome, needed expansion of federal support to combat what they view as states’ failing in their responsibility to fund higher education. Many conservatives, though, object to the approach, saying they don’t like the idea of the federal government expanding its reach into higher education.

“It looks like it’s moving toward cutting out students as the main way that federal dollars are delivered to colleges, especially public colleges,” said Neal McCluskey, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom. “This goes back decades: Is it the federal government’s job to allow students to pick schools or to make schools cheap?”