Fighting Obama education plans, colleges boost lobbying

Academia might be a bastion of liberal thought, but in the past two years, the higher-education industry often has lined up opposite the White House and congressional Democrats—and has spent a lot on lobbyists in the process, reports the Washington Post. The most recent example is the resistance from for-profit colleges to the Obama administration’s proposal to raise standards for institutions receiving federal student aid. But traditional colleges and universities also have opposed Democratic initiatives. First there was President Obama’s plan to cap the charitable tax deduction for the wealthy, bringing their tax break closer to everyone else’s. The measure would have raised $318 billion over 10 years, but it died quickly on Capitol Hill. Charities were the most visible opponents, but universities also worried that it would reduce giving by wealthy donors: the American Council on Education (ACE), higher education’s main trade group, lobbied on the issue in 2009, records show. The next conflict was over the Democratic proposal to eliminate subsidies for student loan providers. The overhaul would provide billions of dollars in Pell grants for low-income students and billions more for colleges to improve graduation rates. But schools were ambivalent about cracking down on private lenders, with whom they had built close relationships over the years. And they were opposed to the strings that would come with the additional institutional funding: requirements that they provide more data on student outcomes and submit to more state oversight…

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