It's about time we stop saddling students with massive debt, and instead focus on providing affordable education.
Over the past decade, the cost of college has boomed.
At private, four-year colleges, the cost of tuition and fees has risen by nearly 25%. And at public, four-year schools, tuition and fees have risen by more than 40%.
As a result, the amount of debt carried by the average student has risen. Total outstanding student loans now tops $1.2 trillion.
(Yes, trillion — with a "t.")
In a major contrast to how things are handled in the U.S., Germany announced all public universities will be tuition-free.
This is huge. And hey, it almost makes me want to pack up, start brushing up on German, and emigrate.
But did you know some schools offer a way to do this in the U.S.? And without a scholarship.
At Yale and Harvard, students who come from families making less than $65,000 per year can attend school tuition-free.
At Princeton, the school waives tuition for students coming from families with yearly incomes less than $120,000.
Stanford recently made news by expanding its program, waiving tuition fees for students from families making less than $125,000.
In addition, students from families making less than $65,000 per year will receive free room and board.
This comes as the cost of attending the highly touted California university creeps past $60,000 per year.
It's great news for students who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford Stanford. But the school's admissions criteria is extremely selective (accepting around just 5% of applicants).
The school is only able to offer such deep discounts because:
- The more financially well-off students' fees help offset the cost of those in need.
- And the school's $21 billion endowment fund (compared to the average private-college endowment of around just $26 million).
But what about the rest of us who can't (or don't want to) attend Stanford? What can we do?
Well, at the moment, there are a few ideas being tossed around.
In January, President Obama proposed that all Americans be allowed to attend two years of community college at no cost.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like this is likely to get the approval in Congress needed to become a reality.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposed a bill that would have allowed students to refinance their loans at then-current interest rates.
Again, unfortunately, the bill never came up for a vote in the Senate.
More than ever, programs like Stanford's are needed — but for all students.
No matter how financially well-off or challenged people might be, if they want to attend college, they should be able to without having to worry about carrying around a massive debt for the rest of their lives.