Education Secretary Arne Duncan is watching colleges struggle with tough economic conditions and wants them to know that the federal government is trying to help. But, Mr. Duncan said Tuesday, it can help only so much.
The secretary spoke in San Antonio at the annual conference of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, whose members say they're struggling to maintain their traditional commitment to missions of teaching, research, and public service at a time of continuing state budget cuts.
Speaking afterward with reporters, Mr. Duncan said the federal government was "trying to do everything we can" to help out, including providing $100-billion to education through the economic-stimulus measure enacted earlier this year. Congress will provide $87-billion more for student aid and other higher-education programs if it can pass legislation ending the bank-based system of guaranteed student lending, the secretary said.
And yet, he said he told colleges, there are limits to the federal assistance. "If at the end of the day they think they're going to be able to avoid making hard decisions, I think that's unrealistic," Mr. Duncan said.