A Republican congressman is looking to hold private universities and Ivy League schools accountable for the billions of dollars they receive in taxpayer money each year.
Reducing college tuition costs is a top priority for House Ways and Means Committee Member Rep. Tom Reed as it was also an issue of importance to President Donald Trump while he was campaigning.
“It’s time for the hard-working taxpayer families to be the people we stand with, not these large multi-billion dollar endowments that are accumulating tax-free dollars,” the New York congressman said on FOX Business’ “After the Bell” Monday.
Payments and entitlements to America’s Ivy League colleges cost taxpayers more than $41 billion from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2015, according to a report by the non-profit group Open the Books. That amounts to about $120,000 per student in government aid or $6.93 billion per year.
“All we are asking is that this money go to working families in tuition reduction on the investment income that comes off these billions of dollars in a tax-free manner,” Reed said.
In numbers presented by Fox Business, the richest American universities enjoy a total endowment of $169 billion before any taxpayer funding. In 2015, Harvard University in Massachusetts received over $37 billion, Connecticut’s Yale University received $25.5 billion and over $22 billion went to Princeton University in New Jersey.
The federal government annually awarded the eight Ivy League colleges more money ($4.31 billion) on avaerage, than sixteen states, according to the report. The 2015 Ivy League were more than $119 billion, an amount equivalent to nearly $2 million per undergraduate student.
“With continued gifts at present rates, the $119 billion endowment fund provides free tuition to the entire student body in perpetuity. Without new gifts, the endowment is equivalent to a full-ride scholarship for all Ivy League undergraduate students for 51-years, or until 2068,” the report stated.
The endowments to the universities are tax free but the schools argue that taxpayer money allows them to grow and become stronger, Reed explained.
“At the end of the day, they have to be able to be on their own two feet because if they become self-sustainable, those resources could be allocated to our tech schools and they can be allocated to our community colleges,” he said.
Reed intends to put the “spotlight” on how the schools spend their money as well as making sure they are committed to reducing the cost of tuition.
“That’s how we’re going to deal with this for generations to come, ” he said.
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