A breather: Ah, college debt*

What if America subsidized post-secondary education?

Pipe dreams, you say. I’m a fool, a radical, a crazy person who’s gotten loose from an asylum!

False.

I am none of the above. I do indulge in watching Jersey Shore occassionaly, so my sanity is slightly up to question, but nonetheless, I feel firmly enough in my non-addled brains to ask, why not? Why couldn’t we subsidize post-secondary education further? I mean, we wouldn’t exactly be pioneers, so the glory aspect of it’s gone- Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Scotland are ahead of the curve.

Seriously, though, what would it take to make it so that our average graduate doesn’t come out with $24,000+ in debt, just from getting a B.A.? (source) So that tuition hikes don’t become an expected thing? Yes, alright, Finland and Norway and those other brilliant Scandinavian, Nordic and Scottish people have theirs for free, but what about Canada?

Canada’s university system is subsidized by province- not the national government- even though each province has to create a semi-equal system so that you don’t get screwed over in Manitoba compared to Nova Scotia (source). That’s a problem, though- we’ve got 50 states to deal with, and our 50 states would never come to agreement over how much to what schools, etc…but, each state already has an in-state university system set up. What if these were subsidized even further? What if the residents of that state payed more taxes, and then their children could go to in-state universities? In addition, what if the in-state universities worked together so that some poor kid who wants to major in Art living in Wyoming can go elsewhere, say, to Massachusetts or even Washington?

The national government could also have a hand in subsidizing our post-secondary education. I mean, they already got us through 12 years of it for free- what’s another four years? Regardless of where we want to go, we have to find a new path.

America’s children aren’t getting any smarter, they’re getting fatter, and many are getting poorer. Our wealth gap is the largest it’s been since the Great Depression, and we’re here muddling in the middle of everything. Woo! Recession! Poorly educated children! Massive obesity epidemic! College students up to their eyeballs in debt! Am I painting a pretty picture here? Bob Ross would be ashamed if I were painting a forest. My trees wouldn’t be happy trees- they would be a sickly yellow, with brittle branches and moss and fungi growing over them.

More college students are enrolling every year. Colorado State University, for example, had a record freshman enrollment and is currently having four students to two-student dorms in some places (yikes!). We want to be educated. We want to succeed. We want to be able to pursue jobs, invest in the economy, get financial independence and live productive lives. Everybody has the potential to be great. In fact, despite the cost, I still plan on finishing my degree and hopefully pursuing a Masters and then a PhD- eventually, I’d love to become a professor. I’ve still got years of schooling to go through before any of these dreams are realized, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try. Many of my peers have the same feelings, but we are near a breaking point.

American college students do get top-notch educations- but at a price that isn’t sustainable. There are many options and ideas that America can pursue and ponder- what have we got to lose, really? We must try, at least! Try, and learn from our mistakes.

Some interesting articles/studies:

http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/publications/markets/w07-1.pdf

http://centerforcollegeaffordability.org/uploads/Bennett_Ed_Inequality_August2011.pdf

http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/general/2006-02-22-student-loans-usat_x.htm

*I only spent about an hour on this article and wrote it rather late at night. Errors, bad sourcing, etc. I blame on sleep deprivation.

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