Dudley plan v. Lariviere Plan

9/6/2010: The NY Times says there is a 56% chance Chris Dudley will be Oregon’s next governor. Dudley has a plan for Oregon higher ed. His policy brief, here, encourages more independence for state universities. He also wants to implement a new scolarship plan. Steve Duin of the Oregonian – hardly a knee jerk Republican – lays it out, enthusiastically:

He has proposed full scholarships to the state’s public universities — or $3,000 annual scholarships to Oregon’s private colleges — for high school graduates with a 3.5 GPA.

And lest the Lake Oswego resident be accused of neglecting the state’s disadvantaged students, he is also pushing similar need-based scholarships for students who graduate with a GPA between 2.75 and 3.49.

To pay for those scholarships, Dudley would use funds from the Oregon Opportunity Grant program, redirect lottery dollars that currently go to economic development and K-12 education, and offer tax incentives for private donations.

He knows that won’t be enough.

“Labor just gave my opponent $100,000 because I said state workers are going to have to contribute to their health care program. I understand fiscal issues,” Dudley said.

“This is about setting a destination. I reel off a lot of statistics in the campaign, but the one that scares me more than any other is our per capita income, which has been on the decline since 1997.

“This has been a disaster for our state in going forward. When you talk about addressing per capita income, education is a key component. We have to do a better job keeping our best and brightest in state. We don’t want to export our greatest assets.”

Economists argue that the Georgia Hope Scholarship plan on which this idea is based has been a huge subsidy to the middle class and has increased college attendance dramatically – but less so among the poor. Hence Dudley’s additional subsidies for low-income students. UO already has it’s own program – Pathways – for these students. One benefit to these programs in other states has been a big increase in political support for state universities – people start to see them as public institutions again. It’s the opposite of the approach that UO has been using, focusing on out of state students.

Susan Dynarski, an economist at the NBER, has done a lot of research on these plans. The summmary is that they are a big subsidy to middle class parents who would have sent their kids to school anyway, universities try to capture the benefits by raising tuition, and that they do not increase enrollment by low SES children. One result of hers that might surprise some people is that almost all the increased enrollment is from female students. These days not many HS boys can make the GPA cutoff.

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