HERE are a couple of truisms about government subsidies:
Over time, they become entitlements.
They never get smaller.
The Promise Scholarship program uses state money to pay tuition and fees for West Virginia students who attend in-state colleges and meet certain academic requirements. Facing annual increases in the costs, a few years ago the Legislature capped the scholarship at $4,750.
It was a smart decision. The cap has kept state spending on the Promise at $47.5 million a year.
This week, a group of WVU students lobbied lawmakers at the state Capitol to raise the cap on the Promise Scholarship so it covers the entire cost of tuition and fees at state colleges. At WVU, that would mean $6,090 - $1,340 more than the state is subsidizing now.
Kirsten Pennington of a group called WVU Student Advocates for Legislative Advancement, told the Charleston Gazette that because of the cap, a student "who qualifies for a Promise Scholarship only gets $4,750 a year."
Well, getting 78 percent of your tuition and fees paid while maintaining a modest "B" average is still a pretty sweet deal.
Pennington and her fellow students have support, however. Legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to fully fund the entire cost of tuition and fees.
The problem, however, is that when the state guarantees that amount, no matter the cost, it drives up prices.