01/25/2009 05:21 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

WaPo : College Students are Being Lost in the Recession

It is fair and appropriate to look with transparency at the economic stimulus plan the Obama administration is putting forth, particularly when sunshine is a central promise of this President.

From today's Washington Post editorial page:
"However, some in Congress and the new administration apparently see the country's present recession as an opportunity to change the federal government's spending priorities more generally or simply to reward loyal political constituencies. This is understandable, given that the voters endorsed the Democratic Party and its priorities in November. But it's risky to make new, multiyear commitments in the middle of a crisis without debate over competing priorities -- and without paying for them through some means other than borrowing.

Helping hire, equip and pay police, a $4 billion item under the bill, might be a good idea, but writing checks to individual households for the same amount would do more to stimulate the economy. Ditto for $16 billion in Pell Grants for college students, $2.1 billion for Head Start and $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts."

I can't speak directly to the charge that the Head Start, police hiring, or NEA funding is political favoritism. But as a college educator, I can tell you that helping students stay in college right now is not about rewarding loyal political constituencies.

The reality that every college is absorbing now that school is back in session is that for some unfortunate young people, the recession just put a hold of indeterminable length on their education.

The number of students who have not returned to college or graduate school nationally is not yet clear, but anecdotal evidence is there that job losses and shrinking family budgets have had a significant impact, and will next fall. The credit freeze and other economic barriers have already hit working members of the millennial generation in the wallet. It is clear that the economy is also freezing the educational dreams of too many in the millennial generation.