Posted on May 05 2012 – 7:00 AM – Posted by: Doug Brady
It is long past time for reform. Representative Hansen Clarke introduced a bill that would forgive up to $45,520 in student debt after a borrower makes ten years of payments at 10 percent of income. The Occupy Student Debt Campaign is calling for a write-off of existing debt as well as free public higher education. Students in California are pushing an initiative that would make four years of state university free for all full-time, in-state students who maintain at least a 2.7 GPA or do seventy hours of community service a year. Lost tuition would be paid for with a modest surtax on those earning more than $250,000.
Making public college (or advanced training) free for those who merit it isn’t a radical idea. For many years the United States led the world in free K–12 education. The GI Bill paid for college or advanced training for a generation of vets after World War II, which gave us the best-educated citizenry in the world and broadened the middle class. As recently as 1980, Pell grants covered 69 percent of public college costs; now they cover less than 35 percent.