The Real Deal About College Costs
Interest rates on subsidized government student loans are slated to double to 6.8% in July. That would add up to
Not surprisingly, President Obama has called on
Keeping interest rates low on student loans is a good thing, but it does not answer the real question: How do we make college or advanced training affordable for the young?
The reality is that soaring college costs are pricing ever more students out of the education they need. Tuition and fees at colleges are rising faster even than medical costs. Students now graduate with an average of
These loans are like a noose around students who are graduating into the worst jobs market since the Great Depression. One in two recent graduates under 25 is in need of full time work - unemployed or able only to find part time work. Wages are still sinking for recent graduates, even as their indebtedness rises.
For many, the student loan burden is crippling. If they can't find work, they can defer payment on their loans, but interest keeps adding up on the unpaid balance. If they find work, they often can't pay the basics - rent, car loan, health care and student loan. Instead of their education lifting them into the middle class, it too often suffocates hope.
This country can't afford to waste a generation. High-quality public education has been central to our success. We led the world in providing free K-12 public education. With the GI Bill after World War II, we offered an entire generation free access to college or advanced training. The result was the best-educated workforce in the world that helped build the American middle class.
All now agree that college or advanced training is more important than ever, yet we are making it less and less affordable. College tuition is soaring because the state contribution to budgets is being slashed. We're privatizing public colleges piecemeal by putting more and more of the costs onto the students.
We should go the other way. Invest the money needed - an estimated
Conservatives argue that making college free would just encourage idleness among the young and, anyway, we can't afford it. Those were the same arguments that were made against the GI Bill. We can afford it - the cost is far less than the 20 percent cut in top tax rates that Romney champions. In fact, we can't afford not to do it.
If the American dream is to stay alive, the young must have access to the best education in the world. We will all pay the price if we don't provide it for them.
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The Real Deal About College Costs | Politics
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