The Georgetown College Democrats have been making a lot of noise lately about the proposed cuts to federal student aid. While these students may be acting in the best interests of this university in particular, the federal government is correct in seeking these cuts.

Georgetown’s financial aid situation is inexcusable, but that fact has been lamented on THE HOYA’s pages for months. Though Georgetown cannot afford to meet the full financial aid requirements of its students, it is the not the government’s responsibility to bail out this university.

Liberals have been pretending to care about budget deficits ever since they started to increase during the Bush administration. But when Republicans in Congress try to pass meaningful spending cuts, Democrats sound the alarms. About 25 percent of the $50 billion proposed budget cuts in the House ($35 billion in the Senate) is saved by reforming student aid. This is just the first of several necessary steps to restore fiscal solvency to the federal government.

Those who are concerned about these cuts say that they will make it harder or impossible for students to afford an education at an expensive, elite school like Georgetown. But, while the government should guarantee a quality education, it should not guarantee a Georgetown education.

An interesting thing to note is that many liberals who defend current levels of student aid are simultaneously opposed to a voucher system. Vouchers are supposed to be used when a local public school system begins to fail its students, allowing students who would be unable to receive a satisfactory education to attend an adequate school. This is apparently unacceptable to many Democrats in power.

While vouchers are beneficial on a local level, logistical constraints like district boundaries or busing times disappear when students are looking at attending college. The American university education system is the finest in the world, and there are countless options available to everyone. Private and university scholarships are wonderful and should be greatly encouraged, but it is not necessary for the federal government to finance a $45,000 per year education.

Almost everybody in America would agree that there isn’t any profession much loftier than that of a U.S. senator. Would you be surprised to hear that 52 of our current U.S. senators attended state colleges and universities? Another 17 went to local, smaller private schools, leaving only 31 who graduated from “top-tier,” national, private schools.

The great thing about colleges in America is that they aren’t incredibly differentiated in quality; most of the difference shows up on the sticker price. Smaller Jesuit schools like Creighton and Marquette provide a very similar education to Georgetown for a much more reasonable cost. Tuition alone at these schools is $10,000 cheaper per year, and they also offer numerous merit-based scholarships for students.

Anyone bright enough to be accepted at Georgetown can surely apply for the honors program at schools like these and cash in for up to full tuition – regardless of need. Is it worth an extra $50,000 to $150,000 to have an introductory theology class called “Problem of God”?

The extra tuition money doesn’t pay for a substantially better education; it pays for a diploma with “Georgetown” written on it. This “Georgetown” label has a signaling effect on employers, who perceive Georgetown graduates as smart and hard working. But a Georgetown graduate is certainly not better by default than someone who went to a smaller private or state school.

Nobel laureate and economist Michael Spence propagated the idea that employers pay higher wages to more educated workers, even if a worker’s education provides the employer little information about him or her. Claims that giving fewer scholarships will lead to a fall in salaries and tax revenues are unfounded, because there is not a significant difference in worker productivity between a Georgetown graduate and a graduate from the archetypical “Jesuit A&M.”

Society should try to rid itself of this powerful signaling effect that college labels have, because, as our senators show, not attending a top-tier university is not fatal for anyone’s life ambitions. Once people realize that going to Harvard isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread, and that smart people do in fact attend small schools, the job market will be based on more important things than the name of the school on a degree.

Speaking of Harvard, the charge of loss of diversity is no longer valid at many of these top schools, because they are increasingly able to meet the full financial needs of all of their applicants. This is a great thing made even better because the government can be completely uninvolved. It’s not the business of the government to pay for Georgetown’s financial mistakes when other universities are clearly able to get their acts together.

The belief that our government is obligated to provide its citizens with anything they feel entitled to is increasingly popular, but it is not correct. Nobody is “owed” an education at a top-25 school, nor is receiving one some sort of “right.”

Eric Rodawig is a junior in the College and can be reached at rodawigthehoya.com. THOUGHTCRIME appears every other Friday.

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