Bernie Sanders has proposed free college tuition using the argument that today a College Diploma is the same as a High School Diploma in the past. First, surveys from industry show that less than 40% of jobs require a four or above college education. Most living wage jobs, however, do require additional training beyond a High School Diploma. Any added help to afford education should be designed to address the needs of both college and technical training.
A more realistic and effective change to help the next generation with their education, as well as older workers that need retraining, should be developed. Below are the specific areas I believe should be examined so a truly effective policy change can be developed that considers the needs of the student and the needs of the private industry.
Cut the interest rate on all government student loans to the absolute minimum. Less than 3%.
Increase the amount of Pell Grants by 25% immediately.
Work with private industry to identify the fields of study in college and technical schools that are needed to fill the current and near-future job openings. For those fields of study, significantly increase the amount of Pell Grants.
Increase the family income threshold that allows students to qualify for Pell Grants.
Work with Colleges and technical schools to lower tuition and to reduce future increases.
To show just how important this is to the future of our country consider a few facts about student debt today:
Student Debt is over $1.2 Trillion dollars and is larger than all credit card debt or car loans.
Over 40% of all student loans are currently in default or behind in payment.
This is another area where we MUST be willing to make an investment in our country to help ensure a bright future!
April 9, 2016