Friday, January 09, 2015

Should college education (not just community) be free? What if combined with national service?

Think Progress is proposing that the federal government could restructure its educations spending and make most tuition at public (state) colleges free, link here
Obama has created some controversy, probably within the GOP controlled Congress, by proposing that at least two years of community college be free, for students who go at least half time and maintain a certain GPA (2.5), as here.  The federal government would pay 75% of the cost, and the states the rest (a kind if "federal participation" concept as in Medicaid), although it would be hard to get red states to go along. Some have suggested that his program would help higher income students more than the poor.
It’s a no brainer that national service could come up as a strategy to help pay for college, and provide opportunities to reduce or remove student debt.  There are several wrinkles to this argument, which Stanley McChrystal has been proposing.  One is that seeing service done sends a message to people with fewer opportunities that “nobody gets out of it” and that democratic values matter.  Another is that it can, if properly conceived, reduce tensions in developing parts of the world, even though it is very dangerous for many young adults to go there.  But the danger may be part of the point.  Just as with the military.  There is another Vox piece of advice for college students, one point being that it is a good idea to live abroad for a time, hopefully in a non-western country, and away from comfort zone, for a while.  

Update: Jan 11

There are more detractors to Obama's proposal. A libertarian post from ""Against Crony Capitalism" says "there is no free college", here. And Sunday morning financial planning guru Michelle Singletary tweeted a Washington Post story by Danielle Douglas-Gabrielle, about a big "catch" in the program: it doesn't come close to paying for college.  

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