After Rep. Nate Bell floated his proposal to reform state lottery scholarships last week, I contacted Professor Robert Steinbuch of Little Rock’s Bowen School of Law. Steinbuch is an expert on student loan policy, and he had a great deal to say about the lottery’s financing of higher education as well.
Steinbuch generally supports the idea that we are wasting some money in higher education—that we need more accountability, and when a lottery scholarship student drops out of school, someone often should have to repay the funds to the state, with a significant caveat:
“Family calamities and medical illnesses should excuse students from repayment. And if a student flunks out while doing all the right things, he should not have to repay the money. But if the student fails to take his responsibilities seriously, causing him to flunk out, then he should repay.”
Steinbuch’s proposal, however, also adds a key element: the determination of responsibility. That is, “who is at fault for the student’s exit from school?” The student? An unforeseen circumstance? Steinbuch’s answer (at least in some cases): the school.