Private universities requested to reveal funds on campus spending

Republican leaders of Congress recently sent inquiries to private universities with endowments larger than $1 billion, requesting information on campus spending.

This list of 56 private universities included Baylor University, Texas Christian University and Southern Methodist University. The colleges have until April 1 to respond.

The House Ways and Means Committee of Congress had been investigating college spending prior to the 2008 financial crisis, but the project had mostly been put on hold until recently.

As tuition at private colleges continues to rise even with the decreasing inflation, it is apparent that colleges may not be using money to fulfill their charitable and educational purposes, according to lawmakers.

Baylor reported an endowment of $1.17 billion in 2015, and has announced that the tuition and fees for undergraduates will increase by 4.5 percent in the 2016-2017 school year.

Baylor is working on releasing endowment information.

“Baylor University is one of 56 private universities that received a letter from the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Ways and Means Committee requesting information on the university’s endowment,” the university said in an email statement. “We look forward to the opportunity to provide this information and to fruitful discussions about these important matters.”

Waco junior, Mariah Hood worked over 50 hours per week in order to pay for living and fees. During this time, she was enrolled in 17 hours.

“[Work] took up about 75 percent of my time and left no time for studying,” Hood said. “Everyone I know works. I think it’s ridiculous [that there is a raise in fees and tuition]. What are we paying for?”

In response to college spending, Rep. Tom Reed will be introducing his Reduce Act, which suggests that colleges with endowments of more than $1 billion would be required to pay 25 percent of the money in grants to working-family students. Those categorized as working-family have an income between 100 and 600 percent of the poverty line. If the college’s total earnings are large enough for there to be money left over in the 25 percent earnings, it would then be required to go to low-income students.

A similar plan was created and dropped in 2008, although questions of educational fairness still remained. The current plan is still undergoing research and requires support from other members of Congress.

“We care about ensuring fairness in higher education and allowing every child to succeed without holding them back because of cost,” Reed said in a statement. “It’s only right that we begin looking for solutions to get the cost of higher education under control, and this is a step in the right direction in that process.”