Pavlich: A better higher education

Pavlich: A better higher education
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Last week the country was rocked by the biggest college admissions scandal in American history. The Department of Justice announced more than $26 million was paid by hundreds of families to cheat the system. CEOs, famous actresses, college exam administrators and more have been implicated.

“Dozens of individuals involved in a nationwide conspiracy that facilitated cheating on college entrance exams and the admission of students to elite universities as purported athletic recruits were arrested by federal agents in multiple states [March 12] and charged in federal court in Boston. Athletic coaches from Yale, Stanford, USC, Wake Forest and Georgetown, among others, are implicated, as well as parents and exam administrators,” the DOJ announced. 


The scandal and details have placed parents, students and most importantly, the value of a college degree, front and center. What is a degree worth? Is the cost of higher education an investment in a long career? Or has a degree simply become a status in society that leads to a lifetime of debt? Is a four-year university education the best way to prepare Americans with skills for the future?

For decades, higher education, for those without parents wealthy enough to bribe the system, has failed. Mainly, universities have abdicated their duty to prepare students for a job in their field of study.

According to the latest figures, outstanding student loan debt has topped $1.5 trillion. Many recent college graduates are hoping for a taxpaye-funded bailout as their expensive degree serves as a useless income tool. 

“Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category - behind only mortgage debt - and higher than both credit cards and auto loans,” Forbes reported late last year. “The latest student loan debt statistics for 2018 show how serious the student loan debt crisis has become - for borrowers across all demographics and age groups.”

The Trump administration is trying to change this cycle of debt and unemployment through the National Council for the America Worker and reform of the Higher Education Act.

“We are pleased to announce that the National Council for the American Worker released a set of White House proposals to reform the Higher Education Act to create a more innovative and demand-driven system that is responsive to students, workers, employers, and taxpayers,” senior White House advisor Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpOn The Money: DOJ offers legal opinion backing refusal to release Trump tax returns | Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage | Trump bashes Powell ahead of crucial Fed meeting | Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill On The Money: DOJ offers legal opinion backing refusal to release Trump tax returns | Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage | Trump bashes Powell ahead of crucial Fed meeting | Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill Financial disclosure form shows Ivanka Trump earned M from DC Trump hotel MORE told reporters earlier this week. “We need to modernize our higher education system to make it affordable, flexible, and outcome-oriented so all Americans, young and old, can learn the skills they need to secure and retain good-paying jobs.”

Ivanka Trump’s remarks came ahead of the third meeting of the Council, which was set up by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE through an executive order last summer. The goal of the Council is “to provide a coordinated process for developing a national strategy to ensure that America’s students and workers have access to affordable, relevant, and innovative education and job training that will equip them to compete and win in the global economy, and for monitoring the implementation of that strategy.”

 Since its signing in July 2018, more than 200 private companies have pledged to work with the White House on developing skills training for students and workers that is applicable to open positions, already making the initiative a roaring success. 

But without Congress, many of the key employment and education goals announced by the White House this week can’t be reached. This is why Trump administration officials are calling on lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle to get on board with reforms.  

“At the White House, we’ll continue to push for inclusive growth in this booming economy and look for ways that the private sector and bipartisan legislation can empower American workers,” Ivanka Trump said. “The Higher Education Act reforms that we are proposing include, but are not limited to: simplifying student loan repayment; allowing low-income students and workers to use Pell grants for short-term, high-quality programs; enhancing outcome-based transparency; and expanding federal aid for workforce training programs for prisoners eligible for release.”

The higher education system in America is rigged, unaffordable and currently fails to provide individuals with what they need to be self-sufficient. The proposed White House reforms are a good start to changing the system for a better future.

Pavlich is the editor for and a Fox News contributor.