Last week Rick Santorum called the President “a snob” for wanting everyone to get a college education (in fact, Obama never actually called for universal college education but only for a year or more of training after high school).
Santorum needn’t worry. America is already making it harder for young people of modest means to attend college. Public higher education is being starved, and the middle class will shrink even more as a result.
Over just the last year forty-one states have cut spending for public higher education. That’s on top of deep cuts in 2009 and 2010. Some, such as the University of New Hampshire, have lost over 40 percent of their state funding; the University of Washington, 26 percent; Florida’s public university system, 25 percent.
Rising tuition and fees are making up the shortfall. This year, the average hike is 8.3 percent. New York’s state university system is increasing tuition 14 percent; Arizona, 17 percent; Washington state, 16 percent. Students in California’s public universities and colleges are facing an average increase of 21 percent, the highest in the nation.