In a highly competitive global economy, we need the best-educated workforce in the world. We know education is the pathway to success. It is absurd and counterproductive to the best interests of our country and our future, that hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford higher education, and that millions of others leave school with a mountain of debt that burdens them for decades. That shortsighted path to the future must end. We must invest in our future, invest in our schools, invest in those wanting a college, trade and technical degrees.
For future college attendees
- Make tuition free at public colleges and universities. This is not a radical idea. Last year, Germany eliminated tuition because they believed that charging students $1,300 per year was discouraging Germans from going to college. Next year, Chile will do the same. Finland, Norway, Sweden and many other countries around the world also offer free college to all of their citizens. If other countries can take this action, so can the United States of America.
- Fully paid for by imposing a tax on Wall Street speculators. The cost of this $75 billion a year plan is fully paid for by imposing a tax of a fraction of a percent on Wall Street speculators who nearly destroyed the economy nine years ago. More than 1,000 economists have endorsed a tax on Wall Street speculation and today some 40 countries throughout the world have imposed a similar tax including Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, and China. If the taxpayers of this country could bailout Wall Street in 2008, we can make public colleges and universities tuition free and debt free throughout the country.
For current and past college attendees
- Stop the federal government from making a profit on existing student loans. Over the next decade, it has been estimated that the federal government will make a profit of over $110 billion on student loan programs. This is morally wrong and it is bad economics. We need to prevent the federal government from profiteering on the backs of college students and use this money instead to significantly lower student loan interest rates on outstanding loans.
- Allow Americans to refinance student loans at today’s low interest rates. It makes no sense that you can get an auto loan today with an interest rate of 2.5%, but millions of college graduates are forced to pay interest rates of 5-7% or more for decades.
- Allow students to use need-based financial aid and work study programs to make college debt free. Require public colleges and universities to meet 100% of the financial needs of the lowest-income students. Low-income students would be able to use federal, state and college financial aid to cover room and board, books and living expenses. Triple the federal work study program to build valuable career experience that will help them after they graduate.