Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New version of 150-year-old law could ease student debt and college funding cutbacks

Date:
August 21, 2012
Source:
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Summary:
Members of a panel commemorating the 150th anniversary of federal legislation that transformed college education for people in the 19th and 20th centuries said that a 21st century counterpart to the Morrill Act of 1862 could ease the staggering load of student debt and help colleges and universities cope with state funding cut-backs.

Members of a panel commemorating the 150th anniversary of federal legislation that transformed college education for people in the 19th and 20th centuries said that a 21st century counterpart to the Morrill Act of 1862 could ease the staggering load of student debt and help colleges and universities cope with state funding cutbacks.

"A 21st century Morrill Act would be a wonderful symbolic and tangible move toward reinvesting in public higher education," Amy Bix, Ph.D., said in an interview prior to her presentation at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) on August 21.

"It would come at a time when the federal government and many states have dramatically reduced their funding of colleges, and when students worry more than ever about being able to afford college without drowning in debt."

Bix, who is with Iowa State University, located in the first state to embrace the Morrill Act, spoke at a symposium commemorating the legislation, which Abraham Lincoln signed in 1862. The law established the so-called land grant system of colleges and universities, with a focus not just on classical studies, but on the teaching of practical agriculture, science and engineering. Companion legislation in 1890 led to the establishment of land grant institutions for African-Americans. The more than 100 institutions with land grant status today produce more than half of the country's Ph.D. scientists and engineers.

Panelists in the ACS symposium ranked the Morrill Act near the GI Bill ― which provided college education for 2.2 million veterans of World War II ― in importance in defining higher education in the United States. "The Morrill Act established higher education as a fundamental American objective and provided the means (at the time) to achieve it," explained Alan Marcus, Ph.D., of Mississippi State University. "It enabled children from all walks of life to develop their minds and receive various kinds of technical training and intellectual skills. It made education and especially the acquisition and implementation of knowledge as appropriate objectives and as ways to improve America. Its locus in the states made experimentation easy and common. The act has heralded a century-long era of unrivaled intellectual and economic prosperity."

Panelists said there are opportunities for a recommitment to those principles.

"One would involve legislation that lifts much of the financial burden of higher education from the shoulders of middle class and working people," said Stephen J. Weininger, Ph.D., of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, one of the symposium's organizers. "The struggle to pay off college debt is having serious consequences for the entire country, not just those in debt, because of the many negative incentives it generates. The country needs a well-educated work force; staggering college debt is a major hindrance to that goal."

Estimates suggest that the number of students who have to go into debt to get a bachelor's degree has risen from 45 percent in 1993 to 94 percent today. There is now more than $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. Over the last 10 years, tuition and fees at state schools have increased 72 percent, while this year, national, state and local spending on higher education reached a 25-year low. After decades of steady growth, state funding to higher education has dropped by 15 percent since 2008.

Another panelist, Gary Schuster, Ph.D., of Georgia Tech, foresees opportunities for a new-era Morrill Act to foster innovation.

"Both faculty and students in the higher education community in the United States represent an immense wealth of creativity, innovative power and ambition," Schuster said. "With the current higher education system, however, there are not many regularly available mechanisms designed to harness that energy, hone it and channel it to the next steps. I have in mind something like a 'micro angel fund' that makes relatively modest financial investments in student-led efforts with the primary objective being to educate students and their faculty advisors about real-world mechanisms for the transformation of invention to innovation. Such a fund could be advised by investment professionals who help to establish the funding criteria. This effort should not be judged by its success in bringing innovative products to market, but in its ability to inform and inspire young people by providing them with the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue their entrepreneurial and innovative dreams throughout their lifetimes." Just as the Morrill Act helped provide a trained workforce for the industrialization of America, enabling education in entrepreneurship will provide the fuel for a revolution in creativity.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society (ACS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society (ACS). "New version of 150-year-old law could ease student debt and college funding cutbacks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120821093856.htm>.
American Chemical Society (ACS). (2012, August 21). New version of 150-year-old law could ease student debt and college funding cutbacks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120821093856.htm
American Chemical Society (ACS). "New version of 150-year-old law could ease student debt and college funding cutbacks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120821093856.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The New York Times has officially endorsed the legalization of marijuana, but why now, and to what end? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Congress OKs Unlocking Phones From Carriers

Congress OKs Unlocking Phones From Carriers

Newsy (July 26, 2014) A bill legalizing "unlocking," or untethering a phone from its default wireless carrier, has passed Congress and is expected to be signed into law. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Wikipedia Puts Congress in Time Out, Blocks Editing

Wikipedia Puts Congress in Time Out, Blocks Editing

Newsy (July 26, 2014) An IP address within the House of Representatives was banned from editing Wikipedia articles for 10 days after it made some questionable changes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins