No-Debt College Graduates

In the U.S. high school is free. Good idea. For decades, the middle class was more stabilized, and more citizens had the possibility of making a decent living. We’re past that. Now college is the issue at hand … is it possible to produce “no debt” college graduates? Consider these facts:

  • College is free in Scandinavian countries
  • Much of Europe has highly subsidized education – including Spain, Italy, France, and Belgium
  • In an eight-year “experiment,” Germany tried to apply university fees, and the resulting loss in production, economic growth, and tax revenue, caused Germany to stop the experiment. Now college is free in Germany, as it was was prior to the 2006 “test.”

So what’s wrong with the U.S.? On one hand, we wring our hands about other countries leaving our economy in the dust, yet at the same time, we’re not doing anything to help individuals (especially middle- and low-income individuals) succeed in college. Result: at last count, American’s student debt load was $1.2 trillion, which works out to roughly $29,000 in debt per college graduate. And with average U.S. public universities costing $16,000 per year, there’s no reason to believe the U.S. decrease that debt, let alone attract more students.

Finally – out of necessity – members of Congress, such as Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) (watch her Senate floor speech on the issue) are working toward making college more affordable. At the same time, Demos – a think tank dedicated to solving problems of equality in American – has detailed a lengthy “Affordable College Compact,” which they propose would enable the “majority of poor, working and middle class students can attend and graduate college without incurring debt or financial hardship.”

Is it a pipe dream? Will college graduation in the U.S. ever be as uncomplicated and inexpensive as high school graduation? If so, who should fund it? Chime in, or read answers from other DegreeCouncil visitors.

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