Policies

A Free College Education, Reality Or Empty Sales Pitch

Photo by David Shankbone per en.wikipedia.org

Photo by David Shankbone per en.wikipedia.org

Americans currently owe $1.2 trillion in student debt, with nearly 8 million people in default. This suggests something is seriously wrong with our education system. People don’t go to college with the intention of defaulting on their loans. The promise, the expectation, is that their college education will provide them with a good paying job, in turn letting them pay off their debt. More and more, this isn’t happening. Senator Bernie Sanders and Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have differing opinions and plans on how to solve this problem.

Hillary Clinton’s plan is much smaller in scope, and her model seems to be based on her own college experiences, from the late 1960’s and early 70s. Her plan requires a family contribution to cover “some” of the tuition. If the family is not wealthy, the student will have to take out a loan. Additionally, she wants students to work while in school. She stated,

“I am not going to give free college to wealthy kids. I’m not going to give free college to kids who don’t work some hours to try to put their own effort into their education.”

Sadly, Ms. Clinton’s views on college are on archaic side, and not terribly realistic. Most college students do not come from wealthy families. Her own college experience took place several decades ago, and is no longer applicable. College homework now takes up 3-5 hours per school day, making a part-time job a threat to the students grades, and/or their health. Speaking bluntly, expecting someone to attend a college or university, and work a part-time job is a set up for failure. There are only so many hours in a day.

In the 1980s, universities and colleges began using corporate models as a way to maximize profits. Ms. Clinton seems unaware of this philosophical change in colleges and universities. They no longer charge a “fair” rate, but have embraced a philosophy of charging what the market will bear.

With the federal government providing partial funding, it is predictable schools will simply jack up the rates until they reach the “new” level of what the market will bear. They will take full advantage of whatever federal funds are available, and then go after the parents for more profits. Without caps, her plan is not simply dysfunctional, but will make a college education completely out of reach for young people who don’t live with, or rely on, parents. Young people coming from poor homes, and or living independently, will have no hope of a college education. Ms. Clinton’s plan is a recipe for creating an aristocracy.

Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, views college education as a right. A right that cannot be denied or tied to a student’s income, or their parents income. Nor does his plan include the archaic and dysfunctional requirement a student work a job while going to school.

Senator Sanders’ plan would make the U.S. higher education system competitive with European and Asian schools, most of whom “fully” subsidize the educations of their students, and do not have Clinton’s work requirement to distract students from their studies.

Mr. Sanders’ plan provides “free” public college and university tuition. He plans to pay for college educations by imposing a tax on Wall Street speculators. Bernie calls it a Robin Hood tax. Using a remarkably intelligent method for redistributing America‚Äôs wealth, he has proposed taking from the rich and giving to the poor, as a way of paying for their college education. Think of it as teaching people to fish, rather than just giving them a fish.

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