There was a time when we did think big. We overcame the Great Depression, fought and won two World Wars, rebuilt Europe on the Marshall plan, and yes we passed and upheld the Affordable Care Act.
We thought big when we passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (the G.I. Bill), which provided veterans with many benefits including grants to cover tuition and living expenses for college, graduate school or professional training.
Just think about it. We provided affordable college to thousands of veterans then and now we still provide some resources to veterans, however not enough to send all of them to college. Perhaps it’s not such a crazy idea to what the G.I. Bill originally was drafted to do. Perhaps a higher education should be a human right.
“[the G.I. Bill] contributed enormously to the release of economic and intellectual energy that carried postwar America to the summit of the world.” Historian Arthur Schesinger Jr. Wrote (Swig, Mar et. al.)
Thus, if the G.I. Bill was able to allow more people to get a college degree which created an infusion of new minds that pushed our nation forward then, why not now?
I propose, that we do make public colleges and universities tuition and debt free. I believe that this is necessary for several reasons.
- It is the moral thing to do. I believe that higher education is a basic human right.
- It will create more jobs by the influx of new students.
- It would raise the education level of our nation.
- New energy would be infused into our science fields and our economy.
Need more reasons?
I believe we should because of the outrageous cost of a college education in the U.S. Just in 2014, the average student-loan debt was $28,950 which was a 56 percent increase from 2004 where the average was $18,464 (Anderson).
The tuition for undergrads was $13,222 for a year at the University of California in 2014. At Penn State, it was $18,464 (Anderson).
How can we do this?
I have looked at several plans to do this. I have come to the conclusion that a combination of two of the plans from Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sec. Hillary Clinton might be the best.
The plan that I think might work the best is the following. However, I think that it should be passed in a larger bill that has provisions that would take effect at certain time intervals after the passage. This way we can so-called “lean” into tuition and debt free college.
- Refinance Student loans (within the first year)
- Allowing students to refinance their loans at current rates
- Enroll in income-based repayment (within the first year)
- Cut student loan interest rates (within the first year)
- Set a formula for student loan interest rates to go back to where they were in 2006 to 2.37%
- Require states to freeze and lower tuition (within 6 months)
- Stop the skyrocketing increase in tuition and lower them to earlier years.
- Re-institute the Buffet Rule (within 30 days)
- Create a financial transactions tax (within 60 days)
- Tax the wealthiest by 1% (the following fiscal year)
- Tax those making $100 million or greater by an additional 1%
- Eliminate college tuition for working families (within 3 years)
- Families making up to $200,000 will qualify to pay no tuition.
- The income threshold will increase by $12,000 each year over the next eight years.
This can be done. Already, states are making community college tuition-free including Tennessee (2014). If Tennessee can make community college tuition free for in-state students, then we can begin to have a serious discussion about making public colleges and universities tuition and debt free (Wiener).
Take a look at other industrialized nations such as Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, they all have free college. In France, working families pay nothing, while wealthier families pay about $200 a year. We also have Germany who did introduce tuition, but over the years every state in Germany has abolished it (Wiener).
To even start working on this we must elect a Democratic president.
Anderson, Sarah et. al. “Want Debt-Free College? Tax the Rich” nation.com. The Nation, 18 Feb. 2016. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.
Swig, Mary et. al. “In the Spirit of the GI Bill, Cancel All Student Debt” ourfuture.org. OurFuture, 10 Oct. 2016. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.
Wiener, Jon. “It’s Time to End Tuition at Public Universities – and Abolish Student Debt” nation.com The Nation, 6 April. 2015. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.