Free college is a utopic vision created from the 2016 election that promotes and idealizes socialism. This seemingly unattainable goal for Americans has been created on a foundation of poor information. However, the reality is that affordable college is coming around the corner. The piles of student loan debt accumulated are forcing Americans to make some type of change in higher education. While some oppose the idea of free college it is an inevitable outcome that will help most Americans and further educate the population.
The topic of making affordable secondary education will continue to be discussed in American politics until student debt decreases and college becomes more affordable. The America’s College Promise Proposal brings America closer to the goal, but Americans still have a long way until they reach the results they desire. For affordable college to exist, college must become a necessary tool for upward social and economic mobility for Americans. It will also require people to look at previous experiences and countries with successful free college programs to make a beneficial plan for all parties involved.
For people to understand the intrigue of free college the first step is to look at student debt. The mass amounts of student debt started the conversation of free tuition in four-year colleges and universities. The reality is that student debt has overwhelmed many Americans and will sink the economy again. The 2000s dot COM crash and the housing market crash is evidence of what is to come. Companies like Navient formerly know as Sallie Mae, have increased the intrinsic value of stocks. Which increases the price at which they are sold and traded.
Once the market is flooded, the peak point of these stock prices will be followed by an immediate deflation and a crash in the market. The bubble will pop and America’s stock market will have to reset itself. Many economists can recognize this recurring pattern. The issue is the government’s bleeding heart. The White House keeps bailing out Wall Street. It is not for the betterment of those causing the problem but for those affected by the problem and to keep the economy afloat. Realizing this connection to the past and that history will repeat itself if given the chance, gives America a starting point to fix student debt.
The spike in student debt loans and the rate at which people are defaulting follows the pattern of the aforementioned crashes. Nearly three-quarters of the class of 2015 graduated with some amount of debt, averaging more than $35,000 per student. Some government regulation has deterred the abuse of lending industries. Though that doesn’t mean there isn’t abuse to the system. The private loan sector is a billion-dollar industry, with only one group benefitting. The problem is that its not the students, some of their careers don’t outweigh the cost of the degree especially after interest and other intangible cost.
These main factors are the way to recognizing that a government bailout seems like the next step. While we have not gone far enough into the journey, the government shouldn’t be negligent when the risk is foreseeable. It requires proactive Americans looking to take the burden off of students in debt, for America to avoid the next market crash for our generation. “The burden of college and post-secondary loans hangs over the current generation of graduates [and future voters] like a $1. 3 trillion Sword of Damocles. ” (Fraser) While this is a scary future, liberal and democratic leaders have tried to create momentum to fix this problem.
Most notably it has started with the Obama Administration, Bernie Sanders, and Hilary Clinton. The Obama Administration has made two recognizable strides to help prevent further debt from accumulating. They first started with the discontinuation of the Federal Family Education Loan Program. This program provided a “can’t-lose public guarantee in the event of default and then sweetened the deal further with federal subsidies designed to keep interest rates low. ” (Fraser) This program provided a way for the rich to keep getting richer and a billion dollar private loan sector for just student loans.
Then in 2015 Obama Administration created America’s College Promise Proposal. The legislation pushed for the advancement of education and trade skills. The bill created eleven programs in states with corresponding legislation. “President Barack Obama proposed the America’s College Promise, which would make two years of community college free through a federal state partnership. [The problem of legislating this act so close to the end of his term is] there’s no guarantee his successor will support it. ” (Patton, 33) Another problem is choosing which schools to select with the passing of this act, which would benefit or be burden.
While the step of two free years of community college seemed like an inconsequential factor, it was a starting point of truly envisioning affordable four-year institutes. During the 2016 election the topic of four years free became widespread thoughts. The main pushers were Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton. Sanders’s was the face for free college. His plan riled and inspired a young generation with promises of free college. His six-step plan was simple and invigorating and allowed past and present students to cut down and prevent debts.
[He wanted to first] make tuition free at public colleges and universities throughout the country. [Next he wanted] to prevent the federal government from profiteering on the backs of college students and use this money instead to significantly lower student loan interest rates. [He wanted to also allow] Americans to be able to refinance their student loans at today’s low interest rates. [He also wanted to provide] low-income students the of use federal, state and college financial aid to cover room and board, books and living expenses and have it paid by imposing a tax on Wall Street [investors]. (Sanders)
His plan played to the utopic visions and romanticized idea that the younger generation so desperately wanted out of free college. Hilary continued along the same train of thought due to the fact that she needed the support of young voters. She combined the ideas of both Obama and Sanders but chose to additionally help the deteriorating HBCUS and tax higher income brackets without explicitly outlining Wall Street as the perpetrators. She also looked to make college affordable for all rather than free, a more sustainable idea.
Another key point that separated the plans created by Bernie was his lack of discussing the role of federal and state working relationship to pay for the universities and his plans for community colleges. The act passed by the Obama Administration in 2015 detailed the idea that federal would make up a three-fourths of the tuition cost and state would make up the rest. Hilary’s position as part of the Obama Administration and her repeated referral that the state and federal departments would have to work together is evidence that she would follow the same setup.
In any theoretical plan there is always the possibility of good and bad outcomes. The relationship that Hilary describes as the foundation of her plan is a radical idea. Her plan breaks away from tradition, that federal aid would go directly to the student. “Instead it would send federal dollars — $450 billion over 10 years — to the states to subsidize tuition for low- and middle-income students. States would have to kick in some of their own money to cover the costs and agree to hold down tuition increases. ” (Fischer) The point is to make the states the middle man so that they have a personal stake in the matter.
This would require the states to fund some part of higher education and prevent additional increase in tuition. The way to prevent failure for this ambitious goal is to look at the past policies as a guide. The plans made by Obama makes three-fourths of the plan covered by federal and the rest made up by state. However, there is another precedent that would help to guide this partnership. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 shows where the partnership might fail and succeed. “At $25 billion, the Highway Act was then the country’s largest-ever public-works bill.
The federal government would pay 90 percent of the cost, while the states would be responsible for building and maintaining the highways. ” The tactic was to make both federal and state equal partners in the matter. The Freeway Revolt was proof that too much federal involvement would cause resentment amongst the states. The partnership has to find a balance that never makes one inferior to another. When applied to the idea of free college, the federal government has the ability to go to far and take over the curriculum of higher education.
The partnership has to work similar to the Highway act and the College Promise act. In which the federal government pays three-fourths of tuition cost to the states that have active legislature that follows along the line of theirs. The states in the end have some “skin in the game” but they still leave the public universities and colleges the choice of curriculum. Keeping the relationship from making one group inferior. While both acts are similar, the overall idea should be to that the federal government has to take a secondary position when dealing with the education parts.