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Paul Jesep

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Free College Should Be a Right, Not a Privilege

Student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt. Nurturing an educated workforce is key to a democracy and a vibrant economic system. Yet higher education is perceived as a privilege. Piling debt on those who seek to be contributing members of society through inventing, researching, analyzing, and challenging the greater community with innovative ideas is counter productive to society and the individual. Education debt limits potential for the individual, the economy, and for furthering the greater good.

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  • Nov 9 2011: Welcome to Sweden! Free education, works wonders!
    You can also enroll in a student-loan which gives you around $900 maximum a month at a really low interest rate, lot of people enroll for classes just to get the loan and invest it in index funds. Free money! I think you can get the loan for a maximum of 6-7 years or something. Most cities also have lots (far from an oversupply) of appartments exclusively rented to students, smaller, cheaper but really nice ones that makes it really easy to get going with any education.

    Of course you need the correct requirements to enroll, but theres lots of ways to complement any lack of education that you may have suffered. Free of charge.

    I think it's a great concept and an important part of providing equal opportunity in life for every person.

    Only problem is that it's really easy to enroll and take part of the system so a lot of people come here from other countries to study, then they leave to work in their home countries.
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    Dec 9 2011: Unfortunately, I donĀ“t think free college would help with the debt problem.
    Here in Brazil we have a lot of free, State-maintained colleges. They are some of the best colleges around, with really few exceptions.
    Being some of the best, the entry exams are really hard, and we end up with mostly students from rich families in the free colleges, and with students from poor families in the paid colleges (as I said, there are exceptions - a few really good paid colleges and a few bad State-maintained colleges).
    In that situation, the debt problem remains unchanged.
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    Nov 13 2011: Free colleges could be made available on the Internet, or on interactive DVDs. NetCollege.
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    Nov 10 2011: I would love to see free colleges however... how do you suppose the colleges will maintain the costs of the resources they utilize to provide free education? Plus most universities develop their reputation and good name based on R&D. Now although federal government is the highest source of funding for universities R&D but the second largest is institution's own internal funds. If colleges are free how will they work on its internal funds? Yes there are larger donations available but we can assume with free colleges there will be more students.

    And even though you have clarified "free" if you meet entry requirements and you maintain a certain grade point average but i can imagine international students travelling to good colleges working hard on their average grade point and then going back to their own countries.

    Im not trying to sound pessimistic because i do believe we need to make education more accessible... however we also need to work on such issues as well to make it possible :)
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      Nov 10 2011: There are too many blocks to have free education while having our current economical system. In order to make education free it would have to be payed for by the government (who else would pay). If the government had to pay, than of course they would tax more or cut other programs (democrates vs. republicans) either way, in the end, the tax payers end up paying for their own education.

      Many people however would find this unfair, "I only have one child, why do I have to pay for other kids?" There is no real solution to this problem, if we taxed the people with more children than they have to pay for education they may not be able to afford it, and if you just taxed people based on the number of kids they have, why not just send them to college privatly like we do now?
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        Nov 10 2011: Agreed. It is a very challenging road. But few tinkering and kludges are needed to at least make education more "welcoming."
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      Nov 10 2011: All valid points ... I don't anticipate non-citizens would qualify for a free education any more than a U.S. citizen would qualify for a free education in some European countries. There is likely to be a model from one of the Western European countries in how to provide a college education to those who work for it and maintain a certain grade point average.
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    Nov 10 2011: College is expensive, who would pay for it if it was free? What would happen to jobs that don't need a college degree?Would people even do those jobs if everyone had a degree?
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      Nov 10 2011: I don't think a college degree has anything to do with jobs. I don't walk into a doctor's or dentist's office asking to see their degrees or where they got them from. I imagine most people don't, but that's not to say it's not important for some professions.

      If it's free, nobody the government would pay or it would come out of taxes I imagine.
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        Nov 10 2011: I see your confusion on my statment. I meant this, if everyone had a college degree (I assume many people would go to college if it were free) than you would find that getting a job without a degree would be much harder since now everyone else has a degree. Employers would rather have their employies go to college so eventually, every job would 'need' a college degree.

        This would make a college diploma almost like a highschool diploma. You are not required to have one but it helps to get a job. So, to spend all of these resources, is it really worth it?
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      Nov 10 2011: It would only be free if you qualified and met academic standards. And once the student started he or she would have to maintain a minimum grade point average or pay for the full semester.
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        Nov 10 2011: Qualified? How would you qualify? Wouldn't that prevent people who are unable to qualify (not as intelligent) from going to college? If it is free to some, it should be free to all until they have proven that they no longer deserve that punishment.
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          Nov 10 2011: Certain standards have to be met. Poor reading or writing skills would be problematic for someone getting through college.
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    Nov 9 2011: I should clarify ... free if you meet entry requirements AND you maintain a certain grade point average. I think a set number of hours for community service every semester would be appropriate.
  • Nov 9 2011: I think it would be a mistake to simply give "free college" to anyone who asked. People need to have a stake in their education, especially at this level.

    Would you be willing to swap one year's tuition at a state universityin exchange for one year's service in some sort of national service program?