Should We Provide Free College Tuition

I’m seeing this topic brought up more and more. College is too expensive and even the middle class can’t afford it anymore. And those who come out of school with a mountain of debt will never be able to own a house, much less have enough discretionary income from the low paying jobs they’ll earn with their degree.

So the easy answer is to make college cheaper – or even provide college for free. It works in countries like Sweden, so could it work here?

Well the 1st thing that would have to happen would be a gigantic increase in taxes. Someone still has to pay the professors, administrators, janitors, etc… who make the school run.

But suppose in the short-term, we had a hybrid model that solves a specific problem for one sector of U.S. Business.

Let’s provide education that is free – but on loan – to people who choose to enter a track specific for math, science, engineering or computer programming. Here’s how it would work.

  1. Test into a program for aptitude or potential ability in the subjects, not existing grades or knowledge. Any age.
  2. Choose a specialized track includes some General Education but really focuses on the technical subject matter.
  3. Like the military, mandate required service time to pay off the loan. One suggestion: within 8 years of graduation, require 2 years of part-time teaching at a community college, high school or workshop level. This will help with the burden that we have a lack of professionals who can teach these subject matters. It also gives graduates a full 6 years to get their career situated and mature as adults who can mentor others.
  4.  If the graduate has made enough money to pay off the loan, they can spend money rather than time in service. That money would be able to hire others who wanted to teach.
  5. The tech companies would be asked to underwrite some portion of the project. You’d want to make the numbers work so that overall, the cost of recruiting technical talent would decrease even after their financial commitment. They’d be investing smart money to grow the labor pool rather than paying premium salaries and recruiting commissions in a battle for scarce resources.

I don’t know how the numbers would net out, but I’m not in government. Maybe someone will read this and see if the math works.

Any other thoughts? Email me.

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