The Cost of Education

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has been talking a lot about the minimum wage and the cost of education in this country.  It’s been a subject of course of many democrats.  One of the memes that I think ties both together well is the one that shows how many hours in a day you would have to work to pay off yearly tuition at Yale at minimum wage in 19—compared to today.

But I don’t want to talk so much about minimum wage, but rather the cost of education.  Bernie Sanders would like to make it free at public institutions.  There are many memes mocking this idea, mostly in regards to this being a wild campaign promise that has no chance of coming true.  Or questioning where all the money is going to come from.  Bernie has a plan for that but I’d like to take the politics out for a second and question why anybody would be opposed to the idea of free tuition at public universities.

Can anybody argue that an educated public is not better than an uneducated one?  Regardless of the type of government a public that is educated simply has less chance of becoming oppressed at least long-term than one that is uneducated.  In fact we should be worried about a society in which education is become less and less valued, and less accessible to a good portion of the population.  The constantly rising price of tuition and the decreasing middle class certainly implies a general decrease in access of education for many families.  Sure student loans are an option, but that’s a heavy cost one has to pay going $40,000 or $50,000 in debt puts you behind the 8 ball for sure through most of your young life.   My generation (which would be about the age of many the students now) or the previous one never had to start out life that way, so why should it be that way for this generation?

A more educated one is also more civil and less divided.  We argue in this country over issues that are non-issues to most other industrial nations.  Issues that become politicized which have no need to belong to one party or the other because they are simply something we need to all agree on and do something about.  As the public becomes less and less literate on important issues such as climate change, GMO’s, vaccines, environmental conservation divides in viewpoints exist when they should not.  Even when viewpoints do differ and educated public will force the debate to be relevant, and compromise is more easily found.  A democracy is only successful when everybody participates.  But how can people effectively participate when they don’t understand the issues?  For many who participate their vote is based less on an understanding the issues over more surface based and emotional reasons.

Look at any country in which all people have equal access to education and you will find a country with less crime, a large middle class, and a productive economy.  So why would anybody oppose free university education without seriously looking at how it could be done.  It’s not like we don’t have the money but yes it would cause us to put less priority one thing to put the priority on education.  It’s simply unclear to me why equal access to education wouldn’t be a primary concern for any nation.  Education makes business better, but that does not mean education should be a business.  As soon as we turn education into a product we’ve ruined it.  This is because like any product, when the quality is high, the cost is also high and few can afford it.  People with less money who want that same product end up getting a cheaper version of the product that simply isn’t as good.   Most universities do want to keep their quality high, but it leaves them with a choice of raising tuition costs to do so, or lowering standards of enrollment to get more students.  After they’ve let more students in who they know will struggle in university they end up inflating grades or lowering expectations so they can appear ethical and that they haven’t just let a bunch of students in only to make money.  Anybody who is in academia sees this business model as a terrible way to run education and yet it seems to be the trend.  There is no doubt in my mind it will come back to bite us.

So let us not oppose the idea of free college education, let us work together to find a way that it can happen. Other nations are able to provide this to their citizens.  Why can we not do the same? It really is to everybody’s benefit.

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50 thoughts on “The Cost of Education

  1. It was free in Australia, then we adopted HECS: Higher Education Contribution Scheme. Disciplines are scaled, and the fees are quite reasonable. The “contribution” part kicks in as a 1% tax on your salary after a certain (reasonable) threshold is passed. It’s a nice compromise, although free is better…. and teachers should earn more than CEO’s.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your comment John. I wouldn’t mind if there was a bit of cost, but students going $40-50K in debt to get a bachelor’s is just ridiculous. So even if it doesn’t get to free it needs to get a lot cheaper. Especially so that low income families have a chance of getting their kids to college.

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      1. I am $80,000 in student loan debt with a BA pre-law (history and political science) and a MA in education 😳😱 excellent post btw- you and I are on the same train of thought. I wrote a post about this same stuff- except I wrote it from my hubs POV 😉thank you for putting posts like this out there- the more we talk about change- the more people will be inspired to make it happen ✌🏽

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        1. Sorry to hear that Linden. That’s a long road of debt to pay back. I am so thankful that I didn’t have to face such things, and its hard to watch so many students take that road, knowing that even if they are extremely bright it will be an extremely long climb for them to get out of debt.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. I’m sure you are not the only one who feels this way, but then again you are product of a generation for whom such dreams were not hard to reach, so it’s not surprising you would have them and that nobody was slapping you! Things have changed a lot in 15 years even.

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            2. I was watching the Suzi Orman show a couple of years back, and she was advising people who were struggling to make ends meat on a 4 year degree to not go back to school, that because of the economy, they would probably never get back what they put in. Since then, and this was about 2 years after the economy crashed, college tuition has sky rocketed.

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            3. Yes and the group I graduated with got really screwed with the debt stick- because I graduated under grad in 2005- right when things were going down- but still gave me enough confidence (and others in my class) to keep on keeping on in terms of pursuing more higher education- and since I worked full time while I got my masters degree- it took me longer and I didn’t obtain my MA until 2011 right before the birth of my first child! I don’t have to tell you (as I know you relate) to how hard I worked- going to school- pregnancy check ups, moving into a new place studying, and working full time! I was so happy at what I’d accomplished being able to juggle all that at once. And then it was such a lame ending to my celebration when I realized- now what? I can’t teach because I have to go back to get certified (more classes and money) and despite my having a masters degree- they don’t want to pay much more than teachers with a bachelors degree. So I kept my job as a medical assistant which believe it or not at the time paid more. Suzi Orman is giving good counsel then…

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            4. Lol…I was just thinking recently that my blog doesn’t seem to have an identity like many other blogs out there, but is that just my perception and what do others think? And then I saw your comment and was like. ..do more people think I’m an anarchist? Lol

              Liked by 1 person

            5. I think anarchist is more fun than pacifist anyway 😉😆 lol
              There are so many negative connotations with anarchy- when all it really means is absence of order- and most things in the universe are random as we know- so in actuality anarchy is not negative at all 😎❤️ Unless people take it in that direction- and I don’t think any of us do that- so it’s all good 😊

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  2. Hear, hear. I think America is becoming a country representative of authoritarianism rather than liberty. According to Michael Lind, a historian and Native Southerner, and author of the book “Land of Promise”: An economic History of the United States”, Southernomics is no longer contained within the South, but is spreading throughout the U.S.

    A CNN article featured his book. The articles states:

    “The term “Southernomics” is an economic policy that was honed in the Old South, and according to Lind, it’s spreading across the United States.

    What’s been their strategy and always has been?

    To create a desperate and powerless workforce. This inhumane tactic ensures that the past continues to repeat itself—where workers are exploited by businesses.

    Measures that would make life easier for ordinary workers — guaranteed health care, unemployment benefits, minimum wage laws — are all opposed under Southernomics because they make workers less dependent on their employers, Lind says.

    “If you have free universal health care and free education supported by public school taxes, then you have more bargaining power with your bosses,” Lind says. “But if everything is privatized, and ordinary Americans have to pay for everything through their wages, then they’re at the mercy of their employers. If the workers know they’ll be ruined if they lost their jobs, they’re not going to be uppity.

    You want to break their spirit.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/10/us/conderate-flag-southern-economics/

    The outrageous cost of education in America is just one example of the trend towards Southernomics. Excellent post, Swarn. Bernie has my vote, but it seems that Americans tend to vote against their own best interests. Look who dominates Congress — those in support of Southernomics.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Swarn and I were on same soap box today lol- I wrote a post for my hubs- he talks I write. I wrote from hia POV and transcribed for his therapy and venting purposes 😉For the first time since I’ve known my husband the better part of a decade- he went from apathetic to highly interested in what’s going on in politics and he’s fed up. That’s how I know this shit is real- and real scary 😔 something must be done while we can do something amicable and peaceful for change- before history repeats itself (civil war) 😳 the signs all point to this…
      I remember you sharing this article and I appreciate it- I shared it with others and they all acknowledged this is happening- but just like typical humans- change is scary- and we are too comfortable in our economic prisons 😓

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Ugh…that Southernomics is extra horrible to read about because it does seem to be what is actually happening.

      Bernie has my support as well, but beyond the politics I simply wanted to make a case that there is no reasonable argument as to why education should not be free, so I don’t understand why all candidates aren’t for such reform but simply battling out different ways to make it happen. The fact that this is not even an issue that a candidate would want to talk about boggles the mind.

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  3. I have two sons in college now, when with our discount and their scholarships, it’s expensive, books, fees…. Its crazy. My brothers went to college in GA and the hope scholarship (GA lottery) paid for their BAs .

    Another thought, why not start tracking kids for technical degrees and technical jobs in high school. They may not be able to write a research paper on Poe , but they look at a car or a plumbing system and it clicks. Now they have a purpose and don’t have to feel like an idiot because their GPA is low.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great point and one that I’ve argued and I know others have as well. Trades are important, cheaper, and pay better than many college jobs and we need to start being more realistic in guidance counseling. My former students who are teachers say guidance counseling is a big problem because they tell everyone to go to college, which is really not wise advice anymore, and it is clear as a professor that many entering college would be happier elsewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have a technical degree because my family couldn’t pay for college. My husband has a PhD. Since I was working, I was able to put him through his masters and doctorate. I stopped working to stay home with the kids, but I’m really considering going back to work because the pay was so good. I do wish guidance counselors advised students on trade jobs, they are an excellent option for many young adults.

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  4. As I also mentioned over on your FB…

    I discuss this time in history a few different times on my blog but it’s worth mentioning here…..

    Compare the deteriorating socio-political-economic “divide” (the classes) of the Roman Empire to the USA’s last 50-100 years and you’d be astonished how similar the causes are — practically identical in greed & prejudices. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. STOP SPEAKING THAT BLASPHEMY Swarn!!! 😛

        After all, God’s Holy Scriptures CLEARLY state we are to be separated! We are to be different! We are to be in this world, but not OF this world! We are to hate sin and imperfections, not embrace it!

        Want me to list all the related passages? 😉 hehe

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Grrrrr! STOP! You’re making my pious head hurt with that schizophrenic logic!

            I want to keep reading & living only the passages I like and that serve me best! And please don’t tell me about all the other 45+ NON-canonical Scriptures that I know nothing about! 😛 lol

            Liked by 1 person

            1. You can have it all if you just remember that God moves in mysterious ways. That explains everything. It’s like sometimes you want a hot cup of tea and sometimes you want iced tea. God likes to give you options. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

            2. Huh!? You mean… you mean…

              I might enjoy some things, some people, some flavors, that I might fear most and don’t understand!? 😮

              But that would mean leaving my lazy life and being told what to do… and… and…

              DEAR GOD! Thinking critically for myself!!! I don’t know Swarn… that’s too scary. That means… oh BaJebus… that means OWNERSHIP!!! 😮

              Liked by 1 person

    1. Desperate times calls for desperate measures. lol Although somehow I feel there is a little more dignity in wiping out your debt donating an organ that being on a reality show. lol Overall, it shows just how bad the situation is though, and this is sad.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love your point at the end that other countries already do this, so the whole “this is impossible” claim is clearly ignorant. The national average for student loan debt is $30,000. For private schools (like the one I attended) it’s probably much higher. If we could make public universities free or at least no more expensive than community college is right now, that would save the next generation from the burden mine is currently facing. I’m about $50,000 in the hole, but I know plenty of people who are much worse off than that. The idea of getting a mortgage someday is dizzying. I can’t imagine paying off student loan debt and a house at the same time. My generation may be stuck in apartments and town homes much longer than our parents.

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