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Why We Must Make Public Higher Education Tuition Free


I have to agree w Smith on this subtle point. A student studying to become a hedge fund manager or a high priced surgeon faces an obscenely prosperous future; a student studying to become a teacher has dim income prospects.


Here in MA, even the teachers do pretty well… If we consider that median household income in the US is just under $60,000, the median teacher in the MA makes more than $60,000 plus benefits, and some make considerably more. By the same token, if you’re pursuing a degree in something you can’t make a living at, I’d say there’s no reason that the taxpayer should be paying to fund someone’s own personal interests, whether it’s ancient Etruscan or gender studies.


Not only should we be looking to make access to higher education more affordable, we should develop a plan to retire the student debt obligations of many if not all of those in debt since the advent of the hideous boondoggle for the banksters that the “Guaranteed Student Loan Program” has been. This “bailout” could be modeled on the Financial sector bailouts following the Great Recession IE by setting up a “Debt Forgiveness Non Profit Fund” and loaning that entity enough 0% government cash that said entity can then invest in 3% (or whatever the going rate is now) Treasury Bills and the money earned from that can pay off a reasonable percentage of outstanding debt as the banks adjust to the reality that a great deal of that particular “Toxic Asset” will just have to be eaten by them, or written off, over time.
Perhaps there are no or few innocents in this whole travesty of a program. But families and young people have paid the major price and have been bludgeoned enough by the short sighted Clintonista gift to their banker patrons. Eventually the principal can be returned to the Treasury, and no one heeds to be the wiser. And a corollary benefit, I predict,. will be sharp decline in the opioid epidemic in young adults which is I think as much a function of despair at their hobbled lives and futures as any other factor.


The biggest culprits are the schools themselves. While inflation has increased the cost of all goods by a factor of about 1.2x in the past 30 years, college tuition has increased by 2.6x. Colleges have happily piled on the gravy train, increasing their number of administrators far more rapidly than their teachers, wasting money on sports, and milking students for all they can.


That percentage isn’t relevant as an indicator of the percentage of people involved here since it includes older people and only full attainment of a 4-year degree . Include 2-year degrees and the number goes over 40%. Include people with completion of post-secondary technical training and the number goes up to over 50%. Just look at the current cohort and their eventual attainment of associate degree or technical training certificate and the percentage goes over 60%. Include everyone who does some post-secondary education, including technical training, and your are up around 80%.

So this is extremely broadly applicable - almost to the level of broadness for Medicare (since a little over 80% of the population attains the age of 65). For example, much broader than the tiny percentage of Americans who benefit directly from Government expenditures on Wars. Much broader than the percentage of Americans who benefit directly from the almost any program you can name.

The benefits to society here are not just conjecture. The GI bill passed under the Roosevelt administration near the end of WWII in 1944 had huge proven benefits to society (and not just the economic benefits to the individual that you feel dominate). My dad was one of the millions of vets who got his education that way and made a good life for my family as a result. The taxes he paid, the inventions and new knowledge he created, and the people he employed far outweighed the original expense of the GI bill to society. His story was far from unique.


I think that issue is better accounted for by creating a progressive tax structure that allows those that get wealthy from society’s benefits (like education) can give back to the new cohort needing those programs.


I think a key component of that plan should involve debt forgiveness based on public service. That is the principle of the GI Bill and the teacher loan forgiveness programs of federal student loans as well as the similar program for Americorps volunteers. (I’m not enamored with just forgiving student loan debt without any compensating factor at all)
In particular, such programs should support those that forego a substantial part of their personal educational economic benefit in public service. Forgiving medical student debt for doctors who practice primary care in underserved areas would be an example. Forgiving student debt over time for work with non-profit charities would be another.


earlier this morning i began a post, but after i pasted the following paragraph i wasn’t sure what to say. so i just closed and left. then i realized my problem–i wanted to discuss education, but bernie is focused on money and maintaining capitalism.

We are making progress on this issue, but we still have a long way to go. Making America great is not spending tens of billions more on weapons systems or providing trillions in tax breaks for the very rich. Rather, it is having a well-educated population that can compete in the global economy, and making it possible that every American, regardless of income, has the opportunity to get the education they need to thrive.
now, i do agree with sander’s point of “not spending tens of billions more on weapons systems or providing trillions in tax breaks for the very rich,” but when it comes to education, we need a new plan that’s about world cooperation. for if we continue to see the meaning of life as a competition for wealth and resources, we make war inevitable. i like to see articles by bill bigelow like “rethinking education,” and others from the howard zinn project. throwing money at our broken, indoctrination system cannot be a viable step toward solving the myriad problems facing us and those now growing up in america. they need a real education not just preparation to compete in this failing system.


What is the difference between being educated and trained?
Do students want a degree or to be educated, when does the $'s search mean more than becoming educated?
It seems we in US believe income levels means that you are educated, when in fact there are degreed professionals who hardly ever leave University life for total carreers, and some of those who do are because of income and peers dumb as rocks outside their specialized fields.
90% OF WWII vets received vocational training and at that time until clear up to Viet Era the same % was the norm, and required no more than prep English comp or literature in order to communicate within their ocvupation.
Has the approximately 40% of populations with a degree where and whom actually benefited nation or it’s peoples other than just themselves.
Very very few of degrees professionals ever gain entrepenreal experience or hire labor other than for a personal need.
When educational reform was instituted to make college education easier and less costly for minorities, women got declared a minority and it was primarily white women from middle class families that gained access.
To this day we find where middle and above class whites because of many of societies incongruencies and economic structuring have far better chance of being college ready when leaving high school.
Realisticly this bill is no more than a financial Bennie for middle and upper whites spoiled children.
Until we get a truly integrated society, one where equal opportunity for all races and economic equality as well this free tuition will only contribute and perpetrate the spread of white supremacy issues we face today.


The highest duty of an educator is to elevate their students minds in order for them to go further in search of knowlege, than what the educator has reached.


“The best teacher is a motivated student.”–Isaac Asimov


uh, maybe to have an intelligent electorate so we don’t wind up with a Clinton or a Bush .


So you blame the immigrants. Gee where would that come from?


In terms of doing useful work, college degrees are highly over-rated and by making degrees almost mandatory for most jobs, colleges and universities have changed their primary role to (usually unsuccessful) job-training programs. Paid apprenticeships do the job much better in the trades (NOT unpaid inernships) – even in many “professions.”


What Bernie misses in this and many of his other programs is what is now called “means testing.” Tax-paid public education, and other social benefits, should be provided to people who cannot otherwise afford them, NOT THE RICH. Should the rich ever be eliminated by massive wealth redistribution, primarily through progressive income and corporate taxes, wealth taxes, etc., then we can be talking about for all. Bernie claims to be a socialist. If he is, he sshould stand by the most fundamental of socialist principles: from each, according to her/his abilities; to each, according to her/his needs…


I’m all in favor of that, but how many paid apprenticeships actually exist any more?