Sunday, May 20, 2018
Editorials

Opening the books on college costs

College is a commodity. And, as with anything you can buy or sell, consumers — students and parents, in this case — sometimes get ripped off. A new effort by the Obama administration to shed light on the cost of attendance on a school-by-school basis is a much-needed step toward minimizing the debt incurred by the nation's best and brightest. In this era of skyrocketing tuition, giving students and parents the ability to lift the veil and see exactly how much they are paying — and to plan for it — is a positive objective in a nation where new college graduates are struggling to find work. College and university presidents should commit to this plan.

The White House initiative, announced earlier this month, calls on colleges to provide several pieces of personalized and useful information as part of all incoming students' financial aid packages. The federal government already requires universities to post certain cost estimates in the form of a "net price calculator," but the new initiative takes that concept several steps further. It will also include financial aid options and estimated monthly payments on federal student loans the student would likely be paying off after graduation, among other things. Several universities, university systems and colleges — including Florida's Miami Dade College — already have pledged to provide this information starting in the 2013-14 school year.

The plan comes as President Barack Obama pushes Congress to keep interest rates on new federal subsidized student loans from doubling July 1. The importance of reducing student debt is generally accepted on both sides of the aisle, as it should be. Students who graduated in 2010 carried an average of more than $25,000 in student loan debt, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. In Florida, about half of all students are in debt after graduation. As they struggle to find jobs in a sputtering economy, graduates shouldn't have to be burdened with exorbitant loan debt when they could have planned for it ahead of time.

Florida's leaders in higher education should eagerly adopt this initiative. The Board of Governors has made affordability a top priority in recent years, and Florida's schools continue to be some of the best values in the country. But pledging to provide a higher level of transparency at each school in a user-friendly way could only be a good thing for students and families.

The application of transparency to the financial aid process makes perfect sense, and the fact that it can be personalized to each student is a service to budget-conscious parents. If adopted by major public and private universities, this commitment would set an encouraging standard in the world of higher education.

Comments
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18