Free college for everyone? Did I hear that right? In the United States, a nonprofit higher education? I must have just woken up from a dream.
No, it’s true, the president has proposed free community college for everyone. Oh, but wait – John Boehner called it a talking point. Many Americans won’t take it seriously, according to Boehner. How will we pay for it, they will ask.
Well, how about the same way many Europeans get a free four-year education at top universities. If you live in Sweden, you can even go to a university in Norway and not pay a dime in tuition. They even give students welfare to live on while they are in school. The result is that upon graduation they are not burdened with debt.
In a fact sheet released by the White House Thursday night, the plan was summarized like this:
Today the President is unveiling the America’s College Promise proposal to make two years of community college free for responsible students, letting students earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree and earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost. This proposal will require everyone to do their part: community colleges must strengthen their programs and increase the number of students who graduate, states must invest more in higher education and training, and students must take responsibility for their education, earn good grades, and stay on track to graduate. The program would be undertaken in partnership with states and is inspired by new programs in Tennessee and Chicago. If all states participate, an estimated 9 million students could benefit. A full-time community college student could save an average of $3,800 in tuition per year.
In addition, today the President will propose a new American Technical Training Fund to expand innovative, high-quality technical training programs similar to Tennessee Tech Centers that meet employer needs and help prepare more Americans for better paying jobs. These proposals build on a number of historic investments the President has made in college affordability and quality since taking office, including a $1,000 increase in the maximum Pell Grant award to help working and middle class families, the creation of the $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit, reforming student loans to eliminate subsidies to banks to invest in making college more affordable and keeping student debt manageable, and making available over $2 billion in grants to connect community colleges with employers to develop programs that are designed to get hard-working students good jobs.
In a video also released on Thursday night, the president announced the proposal: [Follow link below. — Ed.]
If this were to be implemented, it would be a nice first step. Our young people start out shackled by debt. While a free education from pre-school to college would need to be paid for by taxes, imagine the savings for parents with more than one child who needs to go to college.
It is the same with health care: Medicare for All would mean higher taxes, but the lack of out-of-pocket spending for health care would more than make up for the additional taxes.
It is time to invest in young people. Every election, we hear about candidates’ commitment to education. Well, I haven’t noticed many major changes in my lifetime. If anything, a college education is further from reality for many young people than it was in the early eighties.
One of the reasons I believe Elizabeth Warren is the best candidate the Democrats have is her commitment to addressing student loan debt.
While Obama’s proposal is not likely to make much progress in this Congress, he deserves credit for starting the ball rolling.
We never expected legal same-sex marriages or legal marijuana 20 years ago. Maybe in 20 years our kids can have a free education, that is if it won’t give too many Republicans a stroke. I guess just in case, we should give everyone free health care first.