Public College Education Should Be Term Paper

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" (McClure, 2002) the outcome of the higher costs of college education is that the education gap existing in the country is widened. "Teens whose parents have degrees start out thinking they'll go to college (86% say they plan to get a bachelor's degree). But less than half of the kids whose parents have a high school diploma or less expect to get a college degree. Later, those expectations are often fulfilled: 65% of young people from more educated families enroll in four-year institutions - compared to just 21% of young people from families with less formal education." (McClure, 2002) Further stated is a racial divide as in 1998: "41% of white non-Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in college, compared to 30% of blacks, and 20% of Latinos, according to the Digest of Education Statistics." (McClure, 2002) McClure relates that: "Financial aid could help close these gaps. But in the past decade or so, outright grants have increasingly been supplanted by loans as the primary way to help lower-income students finance their education. The Lumina Foundation study found that in most states low-income students simply can't afford to go to public four-year colleges without borrowing significant amounts of money. This is wreaking havoc on students' lives." (2002) Additionally reported by McClure is: "A new report by the State Public Interest Research Groups bolsters the Lumina study: It found that two out of three students now have to borrow money to attend college, and four out of ten face unmanageable debts once they graduate. According to the report, which is based on information from the Census Bureau and the Labor Department, 42% of students had to borrow to pay for college in 1992. Four short years later, in 1996, 59% had to take out loans. The average debt of graduates rose from $9,188 in 1992 to almost $17,000 in 2000. " (McClure, 2002) McClure concludes by stating: "By renewing and broadening that commitment to higher education for all, we could, in the words of Adolph Reed Jr., "expand the foundation of American democracy." (2002)


The work of Reed (2001) states that in 2000 "polls indicated that respondents included education, along with the economy, as one of the two highest priority issues in choosing a presidential candidate. Although much of this expressed concern is centered on the quality of pre-collegiate schooling, Americans are also worried about access to post-secondary education. Legitimately so, for post-secondary education is increasingly a prerequisite for effective labor force participation, for any hope of a relatively secure, decent job. If that is the case, shouldn't society have an obligation to provide universal access to such an essential social good? Why should we accept a putative consensus that preempts consideration of an issue so important to so many Americans?" (Reed, 2001) Reed relates that "Universal access to higher education is not entirely unprecedented in recent American history. The most dramatic approximation to it was the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, popularly known as the GI Bill, under which a generation of Second World War veterans received what was usually full tuition support and stipends (up to nearly $12,000 per year in 1994 dollars) to attend post-secondary educational institutions. By 1952, the federal government had spent $7 billion (nearly $39 billion in 1994 dollars) on sending veterans to college. This amounted to 1.3% of total federal expenditures ($521.8 billion) during that period. A 1988 report by a congressional subcommittee on education and health estimated that 40% of those who attended college under the GI Bill would not otherwise have done so. The report also found that each dollar spent educating that 40% produced a $6.90 return (more than $267 billion in 1994 dollars) in national output due to extra education and increased federal tax revenues from the extra income the beneficiaries earned." (Reed, 2001) Reed states that the "dynamics set in motion by the GI Bill had broad, positive ramification for the country as a whole extending far beyond the direct beneficiaries" and the latter benefited from income increasing, occupational and employment opportunities and personal group and enrichment..." (2001) Furthermore, these benefits "...extended intergenerationally making for greater opportunities for their children and families which contributed to a general expansion in college enrollments through the 1970s, far outstripping the population growth." (Reed, 2001) There was a 21% increase in enrollments between 1950 and 1960. 1.7% of the total U.S. population were enrolled in colleges and universities in 1950 rising to 5.2% by 1975. This growth "fueled a dramatic expansion of colleges and universities. Bulging enrollments led to substantial enlargement of physical plant and capacities at existing institution. Increased demand for higher education also prompted creation of new institutions, many of them public campuses in urban and under-served rural areas that brought higher education physically within reach of new segments of society. The Bureau of the Census counted 1,708 institutions of higher education in 1940 and 1,959 in 1960; by 1981, the number had risen to more than 3,200. All this expansion in turn stimulated construction and other employment opportunities, ranging from faculties and staff to support services and the commercial sector. It also dramatically democratized college and university life and broadened and deepened the intellectual life of campuses and academic disciplines." (Reed, 2001) Reed states that there were factors "other than public tuition support" which were contributors to the postwar explosion in attendance of higher education institutions including: (1) the general economic prosperity of the period; (2) the rising wages, benefits and job security; and (3) the perceived need to invest in education sparked by the Soviet Union's launching of Sputnik in 1957." (Reed, 2001) Reed relates that the history of the City University of New York (CUNY) "provides a local, but instructive illustration of the general social benefits that result from removing financial constraint from access to higher education. The free tuition policy in effect in the CUNY system until the 1970s also brought higher education within reach for tends of thousands of people for whom it otherwise would have been no more than an unrealizable dream." (Reed, 2001) During the latter part of the 1970s and on through the 1980s the costs associated with attending an higher education institution rose all across the nation and the federal grant aid support "decreased relative to need." (Reed, 2001) in the years since tuition and costs of attending college have risen steadily and dramatically and "increasingly, college attendance for all except the wealthy has become contingent on qualification for interest-carrying student loans." (Reed, 2001) This eliminates many potential students who are not able to afford the loan or who cannot qualify for the loan. Many students fail to complete their degree because the funds run out before they complete the requirements for the degree. Others take time out of school to work in order to get their degree and others who completed their degree with a heavy burden of student loans to repay.

The work entitled: "Free Tuition at All Public Colleges and Universities for Students Who Meet Admissions Standards" states that "No motivated and well prepared young person should be denied a college education simply because he or she cannot afford it." (Debs-Jones Institute, 2002) the following table lists what would be provided and eliminated through free higher education at public colleges and universities for those who meet admissions criteria.

Free Higher Education at Public Colleges and Universities for those Who Meet Admission Criteria

Source Debs-Jones Institute (2002)

According to the study of the Deb-Jones Institute, adults with higher levels of education have better jobs and earn more money than those without higher levels of education. According to this report: (1) 74% of all full-time students work while attending school; (2) One in every five students works full-time; (3) Students report that working long hours has a negative effect on their grades and limits their choice and number of classes; (4) 29% of low-income students work more than 35 hours per week; (5) 53% of low-income freshman who work more than 35 hours per week do not remain enrolled and do not receive a degree; and (6) Faced with repaying unexpected huge loans, students often must rethink their career plans. Lower-paying occupations in teaching, social services and health care...may suffer is students are forced to see more lucrative jobs to repay loans. (Deb-Jones Institute, 2002)


There are arguments both in support of and in opposition to the provision of free college education in the United States. While an increasingly number of individual, obtaining four-year college degrees has been said to lessen the value of a four-year degree. It is very likely that the reason that the United States excelled in the industrial, space, and technology arenas in the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, is due to assistance with college education for U.S. citizens. It is important that the United States once again look at the future through the lens that includes the view of the potential scholars who will…[continue]

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