Congress had already sent relief money to American colleges and universities through the CARES Act, but Mitchell asked for more--a lot more!
Mitchell said colleges need a total of $46.6 billion to cover increased student aid and lost revenues, and they need another $73.8 billion to pay the costs associated with the COVID 19 pandemic.
One congressional bill (the Corona Virus Child Care & Education Relief Act) calls for sending the colleges $132 billion, and Mitchell says that will do nicely, thank you very much. Other legislation falls short of what Mitchell says the college industry needs.
Mitchell also asked for some other stuff:
- Colleges want flexibility in how they spend the federal money they want Congress to give them.
- Colleges want more cash even if they don't fully reopen. Or, as Mitchell put it, none of the money should be based on "an institution's reopening status."
- Universities with fat endowments (Harvard's endowment fund is $37 billion) should not be penalized just because they're rich.
Mitchell's letter contained some more requests, but the bottom line is this: American colleges and universities want more federal money. Feed Me, Seymour!
When Mitchell was asking for a federal handout, did he urge Congress to provide some relief for college students? College borrowers, after all, collectively owe $1.7 trillion in student debt.
Oh yes. Mitchell asked Congress to extend the moratorium on monthly student-loan payments and accruing interest for an additional six months. Thanks for thinking about the students, Ted. So thoughtful!
Mitchell did not mention bankruptcy relief for distressed student-loan debtors or the tax status of forgiven student debt. He did not mention the millions of parents who took out PLUS loans to get their kids through crumby colleges--loans that sabotaged their retirement plans.
No, Ted Mitchell's letter was all about sucking up more federal money so the college racket can maintain the status quo--which includes robber-baron salaries for college presidents, coaches, and administrators.
Of course, the higher education industry won't admit that it brought its financial woes on itself or that many colleges were sinking even before the coronavirus showed up and crapped in their mess kits. (See Jon Marcus's recent essay in the Hechinger Report.)
Public institutions refused to consolidate their regional campuses even as college enrollments dropped precipitously. Private colleges continued to insist that the liberal arts degrees they cranked out were valuable, even though they had forgotten what a liberal arts education is all about.
Law schools and business schools refused to cut their tuition or shrink the size of their entering classes even though there was a glut of JDs and MBAs on the market.
And now the reckoning day approaches, and all the college and universities can think of to do as a group is to have their 70 lobbying organizations ask Congress for more money.