G.O.P. Plan Would Restrict Rise in Tuition

By KAREN W. ARENSON
The New York Times
September 5, 2003

Two House Republican leaders sharply attacked American colleges and universities in a report yesterday, saying their costs were out of control.

The Republicans are proposing a bill that would penalize colleges, public and private, that raised tuition significantly faster than the increase in the Consumer Price Index over several years.

Under a draft proposal, sanctions could include the loss of some federal student aid programs. But the sanctions would not be imposed until a college had an opportunity to formulate a corrective plan and two to three years to put it into use.

An aide to Representative Howard P. McKeon, a California Republican who has said he would soon introduce such legislation, said Mr. McKeon was not available for comment yesterday afternoon.

"Decades of uncontrolled cost increases are pushing the dream of a college degree further out of reach for needy students," said the report, which was written by Representative John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, who is chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Mr. McKeon, who is chairman of the subcommittee on 21st century competitiveness.

They called the pending reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which covers a variety of matters involving colleges and universities, "the most pressing item on the Congressional agenda for education" because rising tuition hurts colleges at a time when attending college has become increasingly important.

The bill summary said a tuition increase would be deemed troublesome if tuition over three years grew at more than twice the rate of increase in the price index.

If that happened, the education secretary would ask a college for an explanation and a specific plan to limit future tuition increases. If the college did not comply with its plan within two academic years, it would be placed on "cost affordability alert" status and have to submit additional information about its spending that would be made public.