Better Schools through Choice and Competition



Higher Education: For the past several decades, the federal government has been the primary provider of aid to students--through grants, loans, and subsidies--for higher education expenditures. A growing body of empirical literature strongly suggests that much federal financial aid does not translate into greater affordability for students. Instead, it has unintended effects: institutions replacing their own aid dollars, state legislators decreasing direct subsidies, and tuition inflation. We don’t have student grants, loans, and subsidies because college tuition is high; college tuition is high because we have student grants, loans, and subsidies.

K-12: The evidence strongly suggests that ballooning federal spending and control of K-12 education have been largely ineffectual and almost certainly not worth the money expended on them. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Long-Term Trend Assessment shows that over decades student achievement has been almost completely flat.

Pre-K: High-quality research on large-scale preschool programs fails to find lasting positive effects on participating students. A universal preschool program is likely to cost tens of billions of dollars without measurably improving student outcomes.



For Higher Education, Congress should:

  • phase out student aid programs, including grants, loans, and tax incentives;
  • reject proposals to incentivize more state spending on colleges.

For K-12 Education, Congress should:

  • return power to states, districts, schools, and parents;
  • eliminate federal involvement in K–12 education;
  • via tax reductions, let taxpayers keep the $80billion per year that the federal government spends on K–12 education.

For Pre-K Education, Congress should:

  • end direct federal subsidies of preschool programs;

  • refrain from enacting a universal preschool program.


Note: These proposals are based in part on policy analyses developed by the Cato Institute.