No Free Lunch
Posted: July 29, 2016
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has joined forces with the Bernie Sanders camp to address the student debt crisis facing college students. Her plan, which was unveiled on Monday night, would spend $350 billion over the next 10 years. She recently revised her plan to add another $100 billion, which will probably be much more to help college students.
As part of her plan, Clinton would allow anyone coming from a family making $125,000 or less the chance to attend a public university tuition-free. The student and family will be called on to help defray some of the other costs associated with attending college, but these contributions would not be so much that they would require borrowing.
This may sound good to the Millennials, who overwhelmingly backed Sanders during the Democratic primaries. But the plan is not particularly fair to people who have already sacrificed mightily to pay for higher education. Nor does it address the main drivers of rising tuition: An indulgence of instructors who don't spend much time in the classroom, money-losing sports programs, bloated bureaucracies and massive building campaigns.
Those with the opposing view believe Clinton's plan would help the economy. If our country is to thrive and if Americans are equipped with the tools needed to compete in a global economy, a high-quality education must be accessible without the burden of high debt or financial hardship.
In addition, year-round Pell Grants would provide on-campus child care that will provide access to college and the necessary support for low- and middle-income students.
Those with the opposing view believe Clinton's plan would put money back into communities and not into interest payments and fees for lenders. Student debt in America is a lead weight on our economy having reached $1.3 trillion. Student debt tops both credit card and auto loan debt.
Government grants and subsidies to students and universities already amount to more than $150 billion a year. Additionally, students pay about $120 billion annually with borrowed funds, almost all of it through federal programs. This flood of many has not held tuition down. In fact, it has had the opposite effect.
Politicians already have leverage to force universities to hold the line on costs. They could make Pell Grants, Stafford loans and other aid conditional on freezing or cutting tuition. But in my opinion, there's no free lunch.