Editorial: State governments begin moving on education reform

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

Delaware’s state education sector has found a new, effective way to combat income equality with regard to equal opportunities for high school students applying to college.

In a new effort to ensure equal opportunity among students on an income-based level, Delaware has promised to supply information and application fee waivers to high school seniors who would otherwise be incapable of paying for college applications.

Partnering with the College Board, Delaware — along with Maine and Idaho — is working toward subsidizing the cost of the SAT and providing waivers for college application fees. Information regarding tuition costs, financial aid policies and university-specific parameters are also being bundled into a package that high school seniors will be receiving.

This move bodes well on a small scale. In cases such as Maine, Idaho and Delaware — the only three states who currently subsidize the cost of taking the SAT for high school juniors — there is only a small demographic eligible to have these college-preparation expenditures subsidized. On a larger, federal scale, however, this initiative is seemingly inapplicable.

If states with larger populations such as New York, California or Texas begin to pursue similar policies, funding will have to derive from a particular sector with finite resources. The funding will have to stem from another entity, namely the federal government. A question to ask is whether the federal government is willing to help state governments finance low-income students’ application fees. But even if the federal government does finance such projects, the success will be seriously short-lived.

If the federal government allots funds for states to use toward the subsidization of college-application and SAT-testing fees, the ripples of this funding lead to more applications to top-tier universities. Theoretically, if there are more applicants, there will also be more admittances.

However, this presents a slippery slope: How can universities, who have a finite budget with regard to financial aid, provide for an increased number of students who need financial aid to attend school? Ultimately, more admittances mean that there will be less aid available to offer to current and  prospective  students.

Delaware’s initiative with the College Board should be lauded. On a microeconomic level, the effort is commendable. However, if true change is to occur, education needs to be reformed on a comprehensive, national scale.