Politics Magazine

It's Time To Offer A Free College Education To Qualified Students In The United States

Posted on the 04 October 2014 by Jobsanger
It's Time To Offer A Free College Education To Qualified Students In The United States
Regular readers of this blog will know that I am in favor of the government providing free college tuition to students who qualify for college admission. Other countries do it because they know it benefits them -- providing a more educated workforce, giving people a way to better themselves, and providing more revenues for government (through the higher taxes educated people pay on their higher incomes). In other words, it is good for everyone -- students, society, and government.
Germany has just realized this, and recently passed a law providing free tuition for college students. But here in the United States, we do just the opposite. College costs go up every year, making college unaffordable for many poor and working class students (and even some from the lower middle class), and students who try to overcome this by borrowing to pay for their education find themselves deeply in debt upon graduation -- forcing them to spend years paying off that debt, instead of actually bettering themselves (getting married, buying homes, investing, establishing retirement accounts, etc.). Currently, Americans owe more than $1.2 trillion in student loan debt.
It is time the United States realized that providing free tuition for college students would be cost-effective for government (since we would easily recoup the cost their the higher taxes graduates would pay), and would help to reduce the growing economic inequality in this country (by providing an easy way for students to climb the economic ladder).
The Republicans tell us we can't afford to provide free tuition for college students. That is just not true. We would get far more back in increased tax revenues than we would spend providing the free tuition. And if money was needed to start the program, that could be provided by using part of a "Robin Hood" tax (a small tax on Wall Street stock market trades). We can afford it, and it would put this country back on a competitive footing with countries that already do it.
And one of Texas' leading progressives agrees with me. Here's what Jim Hightower has to say about this issue on his excellent blog:
Question: Is making higher education available to every American more important to our national interest than letting Wall Street profiteers make a few more billions-of-dollars each year?
Answer: Of course. Yet, our political leaders – pushed by Wall Street lobbyists – have been making the opposite choice for years. As a result, banksters have loaded students down with a mountain of high-interest loans, rising from just over $2 billion a decade ago to nearly a trillion last year. Worse, the financiers – either banks or government lenders – have become the gatekeepers of advanced education, shutting out thousands of young people wanting to get ahead, but not able to hurdle the formidable financial barrier. This is enormously costly to America – and completely unnecessary. The smart choice – as we learned from the GI Bill after World War II – would be to make college and professional training free. Universal access to higher education – ie, free access – produces a very high return on the public's investment, while also producing widely-shared prosperity and a broadly educated citizenry. Of course, an up-front investment in a smarter, more productive, more democratic civilization is pricey. So where do we get the money to do what America needs? Get it from where it went. Wall Street's superrich speculators are now making millions of super-fast, robotic financial transactions per second, generating trillions of dollars a year for them – but producing nothing of real value for us, while distorting and endangering markets. Put a tiny tax on each of those automated gambles by speculators, and more than enough money will come into the public coffers to free-up higher-ed for all. For information, check out United States Students Association: www.usstudents.org.

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