COLLEGE COSTS: Who Cares, and Why Thinking Parents Care About Who Doesn’t

30 09 2008

It’s worth thinking about whether education is even more crucial to bail out than business, considering this new story from the Chronicle of Higher Education, plenty of data and daunting perspective to keep us up nights.

Don’t assume it’s just the elite and impossibly pricey privates. Conservative financial adviser Dave Ramsey sensibly preaches public in-state college as a practical value for the middle class — I hear him do it all the time — yet with all his economic expertise, doesn’t seem to notice or care about what’s happening to THOSE costs and why. Public colleges and universities are losing bigtime, and it’s starting to look like a key strategy of the grand elitist “free market” white male ideology McCain’s economic masterminds have been working so hard on for a couple of decades now, to dismantle government and all general public opportunity for those of us they dismiss as just a “nation of whiners.”

Our higher education sticker shock problem totals half the size of the monster bailout bill for the whole economy — $375 billion.  One of the two presidential candidates cares enough to think about fixing it for all Americans, and is able to work on it in an integrated way, without suspending his campaign.  Now that he and his wife have fulfilled their own scholarship obligations and paid off their own student loans, they need to figure out how to finance college opportunities for their own two young daughters.

“We need to put a college education within reach of every American. That’s the best investment we can make in our future. I’ll create a new and fully refundable tax credit worth $4,000 for tuition and fees every year, which will cover two-thirds of the tuition at the average public college or university. I’ll also simplify the financial aid application process so that we don’t have a million students who aren’t applying for aid because it’s too difficult. I will start by eliminating the current student aid form altogether – we’ll use tax data instead.”
[Barack Obama, Reclaiming the American Dream Speech, Bettendorf, IA, 11/7/07]

The other candidate has no reason to sweat his teenage daughter’s college costs. ACTUALLY, he and his wife have a hundred million reasons not to know or care what it will cost their family. 

But as for all our kids, well, job skills from a bargain community college will do, not even veterans need a real university education paid for by a grateful nation, and his one big education reform idea is eliminate education earmarks and research funding. Read the rest of this entry »