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Hillary's Promise of Tuition-Free College Is Pure Folly

Hillary's Promise of Tuition-Free College Is Pure Folly

(Dreamstime)

By    |   Saturday, 20 August 2016 12:40 PM

There was quite a lot of cheering during the DNC convention when Hillary Clinton proclaimed that “Bernie Sanders and I will work together to make college tuition-free for the middle class and debt free for all.”

This was an obvious ploy to pander to Sanders supporters. The proof is that Clinton rarely mentions this in her stump speech. Even she knows that this idea would add billions to our national debt.

The AE Ideas blog estimates that the Bernie Sanders’ “free college” plan would already cost some $70 billion a year as a starting point.

The site goes on to suggest that “free” college isn’t really free since “the Democrats’ approach shifts costs without necessarily lowering them. Transferring costs away from students onto taxpayers would lower tuition prices while allowing schools to continue operating under their current wasteful cost structures. An influx of new funding might actually lead them to pay less attention to cost-effectiveness than they do now. Ultimately, though, price is less important than value: what students get in return for their time and money. Shifting costs from students to taxpayers is not the same as making higher education more cost-effective.”

Making the case for free tuition as a competitive advantage doesn’t hold water. Sanders proclaimed that "In Finland, Denmark, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Mexico, public colleges and universities remain tuition-free. They're free throughout Germany, too. ... Governments in these countries understand what an important investment they are making, not just in the individuals who are able to acquire knowledge and skills but for the societies these students will serve as teachers, architects, scientists, entrepreneurs and more."

But News & World Reports notes it doesn't appear that free college countries are far ahead of those who charge tuition; and some free college countries lag behind. “First, a caveat: Countries obviously differ dramatically in terms of the politics, public policies and culture, so isolating the effect of one policy isn't possible. But if the relationship between free college and educational outcomes doesn't run in the predicted direction, it at least encourages us to ask why.”

The magazine points to Scotland, which in 2007 eliminated tuition fees at public universities. But it was found that getting rid of fees did not markedly increase access for graduates of public secondary schools or low-income students.

“Critics of the policy have pointed out that funding free tuition for all instead of, say, targeted need-based grants, provides a windfall to the affluent at the expense of the working class. One study found that the free tuition plan essentially redistributed 20 million pounds from poor students to rich ones.”

But Clinton and Sanders also added that they would forgive student debt. This idea is fraught with peril.

Daniel Pianko, writing for the Wall Street Journal, notes that “with only 37% of borrowers actually paying down their loans, the federal student-loan program more closely resembles the pay-day-lending industry than a benevolent source of funds for college.”

It is estimated that 43 percent of the roughly 22 million Americans with federal student loans weren’t making payments as of January 1, 2016. This translates into 1-in 6 borrowers who were in default of $56 billion in student debt.”

But as with typical government entitlements, the government allows students to defer their payments. But they don’t eliminate the interest rates, which balloon into higher debt.

So if we forgive $56 billion in student debt, combined with the $70 billion to pay for tuitions, we start with a $126 billion hole. And there’s no way taxing the rich will come close to paying for this.

It’s time this country realized that not everybody should or needs to go to college. The solution is shifting money from traditional colleges to vocational schools where students train for actual jobs and the tuitions are far less. In fact, in many cases, employers will pay for students to attend vocational schools as part of an apprenticeship program.

Or like a program run by North Dakota, which reduces loan indebtedness for college graduates who work in STEM-related fields in North Dakota. Recipients include graduates who successfully completed a board-approved STEM related program at an approved college and who earned a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher. Recipients must have been employed in a board-approved STEM occupation for 12 months in North Dakota following graduation.

These programs have one thing in common: they lead to actual occupations. This is the polar opposite of college curriculum that results in millions of students who graduated and cannot find jobs, and live in their parents’ basements.

Young people deserve an education that provides them with the skills they need to land 21st century jobs. But the solution isn’t to add them to the entitlement programs that are in danger of bankrupting America.

What’s needed is a new approach in our education system that recognizes that our old education practices no longer work. We are spending too much money with too little dividends.

And more importantly, young people must rethink their futures. They need to open their eyes to the areas where there are jobs, like taking a fresh look at manufacturing where millions of jobs are waiting for people who have the training and skills.

Many young people turn their noses up at these perceived “unglamorous” jobs, but how glamorous is it to live in your parent’s basement?  

Neal Asbury is chief executive of The Legacy Companies. To read more of his work, CLICK HERE NOW.

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NealAsbury
If we forgive $56 billion in student debt, combined with the $70 billion to pay for tuitions, we start with a $126 billion hole.
tuition, college, folly, Hillary
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2016-40-20
Saturday, 20 August 2016 12:40 PM
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