February 8th, 2012
07:30 AM ET

My View: Why not a right to a college education?

Courtesy Lester Spence By Lester Spence, Special to CNN

Editor’s Note: Lester K. Spence is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University. His first book Stare in the Darkness: The Limits of Hip-hop and Black Politics was published in June 2011, and was one of the first books to empirically examine the political effect of hip-hop on black communities.

While in my office, preparing for the new semester, I had the opportunity to watch the president’s speech on college affordability delivered at the University of Michigan. I was interested in the speech in part because I am a political scientist, in part because I am a college professor, and in part because I am an alumnus of the University of Michigan.

But most importantly I was interested in the speech because my oldest daughter will be leaving for college in just seven short months. And although being a Johns Hopkins college professor has its benefits (Hopkins gives a generous tuition benefit applicable to any college in the nation) I still worry about my daughter and her four younger brothers and sisters. In his speech President Obama focused on three components designed to ease the burden of middle-class families—reducing interest on college student loans, maintaining the tuition tax credit, and creating incentives to make universities lower their costs.

Now I understand for some politics is the art of the possible. He proposes these things knowing that as hard as it will be to pass them legislatively, these things are at least possible to get past both houses of Congress. (It isn’t likely, particularly during an election year, but it’s possible.)

But for me, politics isn’t just about the art of the possible—about what we can pass in the here and now. Politics is about expanding and extending that art, about pushing the borders to create space for even more change in the future.

How can we do that here?

What if, instead of proposing policies geared towards individual middle-class tax-payers that revolved around the assumption that higher education was an individual’s responsibility, the president instead proposed policies geared towards embedding higher education as an individual right. What if, instead of getting a tax write-off after you’ve already paid your son/daughter’s tuition, you instead didn’t have to worry about education because the government would pay for it?

It’s socialism!

It’s too expensive!

I want to take the socialism critique first. The reality is that even here we routinely spend a significant amount of our government’s resources on subsidies, on what tea party supporters might call “socialist policies.” For instance, in 2009 the government spent almost $86 billion on home ownership subsidies in the form of the mortgage interest deduction, subsidizing the home purchases of almost 35 million citizens. In 2010 the government spent almost $104 billion.

Furthermore, as the president noted in the State of the Union address, the federal government routinely spends billions of dollars in corporate subsidies, helping them research and develop new products, helping them build new plants, helping them train new workers. If we wouldn’t think of these policies as socialist, why should we necessarily consider a policy to pay for college tuition socialist?

The second critique is a bit more thoughtful. If tuition and fees are too expensive for parents, wouldn’t placing this burden on the government be exorbitantly expensive, too expensive to even consider?

As of 2004 it would have cost approximately $30 billion to pay for the tuition and fees of everyone currently attending a public college, whether that college be four-year like the University of Michigan, or two-year, like neighboring Washtenaw Community College. Even if we double that figure now due to inflation, we’re still talking about spending less money on college tuition for every student able to get into college, than we routinely do to subsidize home purchases.

Such a policy for me is a no-brainer. It significantly reduces the financial burden on parents and on students. No longer would a father and mother have to consider taking a second mortgage on their home or perhaps a second job to put their child through school. No longer would three college roommates have to have eight jobs between them (as my roommates and myself did in 1990). President Obama didn’t mention working class or poor parents at all - no longer would college be out of reach for much of the 99%.

This policy is politically impossible in the current climate.

But then again, so was Social Security at one point. So was the GI Bill.

So was the Civil Rights Act.

If we can’t even talk about such a policy as a possibility aloud now, then when?

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Lester Spence.

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Filed under: After High School • College • Policy • Voices
soundoff (928 Responses)
  1. GySgtG

    As with healthcare. it is the parents responsibility to take care of their family, not the neighbors! if your kids don't go to college then YOU FAILED them.

    February 9, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  2. S.Jones

    Why not pay for our young to get a college education especially if they're ready, willing and able. Uncle Sam can BLOW all our money on themselves and their foolish ventures, why not give our children a decent education. Most of europe does. Oh sorry I just realized that would cut into the retirement plan of the fools trying to run this country :o/

    February 9, 2012 at 7:45 am |
  3. GySgtG

    great idea, lets make a college degree as useless as a high school diploma. Where do the people with drive and intelect set them sevles apart? at the Masters or maybe doctorate? not to mention making a high school diploma completely useless. As with our currently funded schools with governemen interference comes regulations, the lowering of standards and dumbing down of America. As for the cost you pay for it. idiot.

    February 9, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Colleen

      Newflash: A college degree is already a high school diploma. Any out of work college graduate will tell you that.

      February 9, 2012 at 7:48 am |
      • GySgtG

        no a college degree in 14th century art or history is useless. real degrees in engineering, medicine, math, science and business are all still valid and needed. i haven't had a problem working. my two oldest have degrees and are workiing and my youngest start college next year.

        February 9, 2012 at 7:55 am |
      • Brian

        Actually, I had absolutely no problem getting a job with a Bachelors in Finance. Maybe they should just spend the four years on something meaningfull.

        February 9, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Colleen

      Also, there are a ton of countries that pay for the college educations of its people, including the UK and Germany. Are all of those countries "dumbed down" because of it? No they are world leaders in innovation, technology and research. I'm not saying I know all the answers to this, but don't blast off some comment without even thinking about it first.

      February 9, 2012 at 7:50 am |
      • GySgtG

        yep and both slowly going broke because of it.

        February 9, 2012 at 7:57 am |
      • bart1505

        It would be great if we would have and education system more like the germans. They have three different high schools based on academic ability. it allows for the best and brightest to be surrounded by peers with comparable skills which pushes everyone to get better.

        In regards to the article, I would have no problem if the federal government paid for college, BUT the tests and requirements to get into college should be difficult enough where only the top 25% meet the stringent requirements.

        February 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  4. Gypsy

    In Germany college is paid for by the "state" for those that make the grade and want to pursue it. We Germans are constantly amazed that the mighty and powerful US does not do the right thing by its citizens. Everyone should have healthcare, there should be no debate about that, and education should be the best and free. Why is it so hard for you?

    February 9, 2012 at 6:42 am |
    • Mike

      It's not hard for us citizens to understand, but the idiots we have running the country just don't get it.

      February 9, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • dede

      It is difficult for us to grasp such a basic concept as this because, for whatever reasons we have a lot of selfish, greedy, moralistic people here in the U.S. that don't want anyone to be able to "outdo" them, and thus reduce their power over others. They lack the ability or desire to think of anyone but themselves even if that means others will suffer. It is a sad commentary to be sure, and is but one reason why the U.S. finds itself in the position it currently is in.

      February 9, 2012 at 7:34 am |
      • Matt

        NO – We that have done it wonder why people like you can't? NO ONE ever gave me a dam thing.

        February 9, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • GySgtG

      why is it so hard for you to understand that Germany is slowly going broke because of socalist policies.

      February 9, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • Brian

      Go bring it up to the UN or NATO. Let's see how their funding and involvement ranks from nations.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Matt

      Because we are a country of over 300 million with 40% of that sitting on their a$$. You are a country of 1/5 of that and the size of SC. It is easy when your small.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  5. elron1107

    We need to expand our underclass, like we are now doing, 770% increase in our prison population in forty years. We are building the Untermenschen class to serve the Exceptional, just like Nazi Germany. We need stupid, angry, violent, blame-oriented people to elect the next Fuhrer, who will promise to exterminate the lesser beings! We need to goose-step down the Strasse and sing Nationalist Military Tunes! Ja! Sig Heil!!

    February 9, 2012 at 6:41 am |
  6. Gedwards

    "My View: Why not a right to a college education?"
    News Flash: Everyone ALREADY has that right!!! What the author really wants is "free" college education, paid for by other taxpayers.

    I'm curious, in order to exercise my Freedom of Religion, should the government pay for my transportation to my house of worship. Should they cover the costs of CNN so the editors and this author can express Freedom of the Press? Since I am guaranteed the right to bear arms, where do I go to collect my government-paid-for gun?

    February 9, 2012 at 5:37 am |
    • bill krayer

      an increase in the number of college educated people is a national asset. The cost of the Bush wars would have given every kid in the US a college education. Answer to yourself truthfully, are we better off having fought the Bush wars for 10 years than we would have been than if we spent the money educating our own kids? Then think of what the answers might be from the families of those killed or maimed.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:54 am |
      • Jebbb

        You nailed it Bill. As did Professor Spence. We've had free public education up through high school for generations. Modern society requires that many more people receive additional education. As you indicated, it's not just a "freebie" for each individual who is educated, but a social and economic advantage to us all, just like the high school diploma. My taxes help pay for my county's public school system, although I don't have a child in that system. However, I am better off if county residents have at least a high school education to prepare them to be productive workers and literate citizens. And by the way, we should also make available advanced training for "non-college" type jobs, such as mechanics, building trades journeymen, computer and communications technicians, and others. Not only for the benefit of those trained, but also because our country needs more skilled people in those occupations. As the Professor said, why not take on a higher goal? Look at what is, and ask, what else? There is nothing done by man that cannot be improved.

        February 9, 2012 at 6:48 am |
    • Gwedwards

      Either the cost of 10 years of the wars, or 1 year of Obama's wasted stimulus package. They're within a few 10s of billions.

      Nope, liberty means the gov't stays out of our way. And it's certainly not the Federal government's job to pay for a college education. Now go back to your OWS protest.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  7. Watcher

    With professors like the author of this article, it's no wonder our education system is collapsing. What tripe.

    So government-paid education would be OK because we're already basically socialist? That's his argument? Well, that's the friggin problem. You want to cite the mortgage subsidy. The whole reason we're in this economic mess is because of things like that, making it so easy to get a home that the market collapsed.

    And then he says it would cost only $30 billion to cover those students in public universities. PUBLIC? What about everyone in a private school? He may be a "political scientist" but he should learn some economics. The only thing the government paying for higher education will accomplish is destroying the value of the product.

    I suspect the author's real motive is that once the government takes over tuition, it essentially takes over the schools, will refine the curriculum in accordance with union policies and brainwash the students into always voting for Democrats by removing their ability to think for themselves. Heck, we're already 75% there!

    February 9, 2012 at 5:06 am |
    • Daguz

      It wouldnt devalue it if there was a standard placed on those who would recieve the money. Like a GPA above 3.5 or top 10% of your highschool class.
      For-profit does not fit with my healthcare or my education and this nations future.

      For Profit is what devalues a college education....."GPA of 2.5?...no biggie, it will be $45,000 a year and we will improve that GPA one way or another because we need those $45,000".

      February 9, 2012 at 5:35 am |
      • Jebbie

        Sounds like how George W. Bush got through Yale.

        February 9, 2012 at 6:59 am |
  8. Aztek

    And before I leave for work – Public schools should be PALACES of learning in order to prepare students for a free college education.

    February 9, 2012 at 5:02 am |
  9. Aztek

    I agree with Mr. Spence. Free at state colleges for everyone. If we don't want to spend money on this then what? The F-35? Come on .... This should be a no-brainer!

    February 9, 2012 at 5:00 am |
    • Bob

      I agee and I also should have some sort of system that consides with welfare. Instead of having a person just live off welfare and food stamps for the rest of there life give them the tools they need to get a decent job so they can support thereselves.

      February 9, 2012 at 6:23 am |
      • Matt

        But they will not and are not doing it. There is so much money out there to be had. You can take a hourse to water.......

        February 9, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  10. Weed

    Lester must be on weed again. There are those who don't want to go to college. Then again, Lester wants those people to pay for others too... how about if you want to go, you pay. If you don't, you don't pay.

    Or Lester could move to Greece where this WAY left idealogy is well established.

    February 9, 2012 at 4:52 am |
    • nick

      so you dont mind pay for someone else to own a house but you dont want to pay for anyone to go to school

      February 9, 2012 at 5:05 am |
    • Bob

      Those who don't go get paid by us anyway by welfare.

      February 9, 2012 at 6:25 am |
    • RReR

      ,,,, or he could move to Scandinavia & along w/the education, experience his standard of living go up.

      February 9, 2012 at 6:47 am |
  11. adam

    As much as I would like to see the Fed or someone find a way to lower tuition costs I really don't see how the fed promising college to all is the best way. Look at how well their oversight with public education is currently going, do we really want this on the college level?

    February 9, 2012 at 4:44 am |
  12. c clark

    Not everyone needs, or is interested in, college. An education is not something the government can grant you, it is something you must work for.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:51 am |
  13. tamcamry

    Unfortunately, I'm afraid this article will feed into negative stereotypes of African-Americans. An African-American writes an article essentially asking for a handout. With Affirmative Action, Food Stamps, and all the racially based diversity programs (however well intentioned) there is a perception that the African-American community lacks work ethic. Articles like this feed that negative perception.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:39 am |
    • Mark

      So by your argument, it would be better if the author were white?

      February 9, 2012 at 5:33 am |
    • Greg

      Race wasn't an issue here until you just made it an issue.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  14. Sixnard

    Maybe the author hasn't noticed, but having "the government" pay for education is a shell game; it doesn't shift payment from the citizenry, it simply masks the expense by passing it through middlemen.

    If he has trouble paying his tuition, he should avail himself of the astonishing array of tuition grants and scholarships that are available. Although he may not care for the fact that many of them are based on merit, rather than the recipient's ability to occupy space.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:00 am |
    • Mark

      Did you miss the part that he is ALREADY a Professor? It would seem it is your education that is lacking.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:34 am |
      • bob smith

        Hey Bill,

        Yes, he is a professor in political science and african american studies....both useless majors with no other job options than community rabble rouser and professor of AA studies. In a fair and just world those majors wouldn't even be allowed to exist in a college setting. Stupid liberals make me sick, so we should give free college to people who cant even pass dumb down HS courses.

        You want to attend university, then pay for it. Also, if it was a right, there would be limited slots available so we should do away with all affirmative action programs and have a blind entrance exam. When the number of minorities in college drops because they cant pass will the great professor be ok with that. I highly doubt it.

        February 9, 2012 at 3:02 pm |

    silly Democrat

    February 8, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • LI_Beachcomber

      I'm a 73 year old, white male, retired. A free college education should not be a right. A free college education for all who persue a degree in science, engineering and math and maintain an established GPA is a national imperative.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:28 am |
      • Joanna

        You know, at one point I might have agreed with you. I was always envious of my scientifically/mathematically brained friends, thinking that they would be able to get a job and contribute to society right out of college. Unfortunately, most of them are not doing a great deal better than those among my friends who went for a liberal arts degree. The problem is that almost all the science/math and even some engineering degrees require a Masters before you even start to appeal to a company. The only person I know who got a job from a science degree graduated with her PhD in Chem.. from Harvard. The rest of them work as tellers at the bank and secretaries, like the rest of us who chased the dream. It's messed up, you know?

        February 9, 2012 at 3:17 am |
  16. Kevin

    Because a "right" cannot be something that is given to you by someone else. You have no right to a service provided by someone else paid for by yet another person.

    February 8, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Magc

      The only rights we have are those we confer upon ourselves. Even a right universally agreed upon in principle is a flight of fantasy until codified by law.

      February 8, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
      • lalaland

        Magc has a right to free govt pizza every Friday night....in jail

        February 8, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
      • Magc

        Struck a nerve I see.

        February 8, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • captain obvious

      this is already existent you just have to have dark colored skin.

      February 8, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  17. lalaland

    Absolutely. We need total government control because we the people, are feeble minded. We need "free" education, "free" pizza every Friday nights, "free" annual trips to Vegas, "free" cell phones so we can text each other about nothing, etc... Imagined a better world where everything is possible. It's all about us. What can government do for us?

    February 8, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Larry

      There are many countries where the government helps pay for or completely pays for almost all public services including some college. These people dont get it for free. they pay little or no income tax but pay huge sales taxes etc for example a $20 book here may be $27 in canada or the uk. It works and nobody wants to admit that!

      February 9, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Mark

      Larry is correct on both points. It is not so much that the American system is flawed, it is that our philosophy in Canada and elsewhere is just different – and we have no desire – ever to see the American model adopted here. And for the record, neither Canada nor the UK are even remotely socialist. That too is just another pretty lie that continues to fester.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:38 am |
      • bob smith

        Lets remember one thing about all the european countries and their enlightened socialist societies, You would all be slaves to one totalitarian dictator or another if it wasn't for the military protection provided by the backwards USA.

        I have an idea, how about paying us back for giving you your freedom and rebuilding western europe, that might help cover some of the cost associated with your utopian wetdreams that are rapidly becoming financial nightmares for everyone.

        All the brave and noble people left europe hundreds of years ago to come here and build the finest country the world has ever scene. The ones that remained in Europe were the ones who were too scared to leave or were in the ruling class.

        February 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  18. JulieMS

    Public schools are failing. Public colleges will fail too. NO government involvement please. They will want to dominate what we learn, and you won't be happy!

    February 8, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • JPS

      Are you kidding? HAHAHAHHA Colleges HAVE failied. The entire education system HAS failed. ED failed America when it started using swat to go after people who defaulted on their student loans. ED failed when it started making a HUGE PROFIT on it's student loans.

      I want to see a law passed that says that government MUST pay all of the costs for college. We should all have the right to a college education just like the rich boys. And without being HARASSED till you die to pay back student loans out of your social security checks, welfare or wounded veteran benifits.

      I have said it before and will say it again – The FASCIST US Department of Education's STUDENT LOANS collections program – HAS – destroyed the America Dream – PERMANENTLY.

      February 8, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
      • lalaland

        JPS, when you borrowed $ for college, didn't you sign a contract? A promise to repay? Why go back on your word? When you go out to dinner, do you leave without paying?

        February 8, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
      • ralph

        Just Like Donald Trump with multiple bankruptcies, and Palin quitting Alaska... and just like Romney going back on his word changing his views faster than a computer can add 2+2... You want to talk about going back on your word... start with the people on the right who say the government has no right to tax us... but when Obama and the left want to pass a tax break for the middle class- they say oh well that has to be paid for. Start with all that first... then decry the people busting their butt to get a college education.

        February 8, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
      • Mark

        While I do not entirely agree with the author, it is astounding to see the degree of anger on this one. So you attack this concept of "free education" as handouts etc. but fail entirely in addressing subsidies to Exxon or tax breaks for GE – you get the idea. Where is the logic in this????

        February 9, 2012 at 5:41 am |
    • Bob

      Public schools fail because kids have to go to school when collage is a choice that they can make.

      February 9, 2012 at 6:35 am |
  19. terrible idea

    College is a joke anyway. Let's make it a right and fill the system with even more idiots!

    February 8, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Gedwards

      Didn't get accepted? Tough break, but you should have worked harder in high school.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:50 am |
  20. Noproblemo

    Just as long as people with no children are exempt.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Magc

      Ok by me if you'll "opt out" of my kid funding your social security check.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  21. Dan

    From reading this blog, it's clear that the responders have differing views of priorities on gov't spending. In fact, 100 Senators, 435 Congressmen, and 350MM citizens all have different views on what is important. So, every few years, the power shifts and a new group gets to decide how much to collect and where to spend. Unfortunately, they rarely stop collecting and spending from where the last regime was spending, they just add their spending.

    I would prefer that we all get our own money and chose to spend it or donate it to the causes we favor – as opposed to having the gov't take my money and spend it in the unfocused and inefficient ways they spend. I'm not for making college a 'right' any more than any other gov't give away, including mortgate interest, etc.

    Let me keep my money!

    February 8, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • lalaland

      Liberals think they are gracious for letting you keep your earnings. Their mentality is = "You $ is their $"

      February 8, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  22. jja

    Wow – Comparing civil rights with free college? Really? Where to begin? First, government can only spend what it collects from taxes – this would not be free OR cheap – pretty sure Hopkins won't reduce it's tuition to $0. Moreover, the additional tax burden would not be light on taxpayers – you act as if the existing tax burden is a nonrelevant issue.

    Second, let's look at the physical infrastructure of the colleges – could they handle the influx of that many more students, driven by the freebies? Not likely – who will pay for the new, larger dorms, cafeterias, lecture halls? Not the colleges, I assure you – they'll want more government money – see the paragraph above, if you're still fuzzy as to where THAT money comes from. Now, let's ask the $64,000 question – can the economy – ANY economy – gainfully employ all of those new graduates? Not likely, prof. Who's going to want to sweep streets, collect trash, work at McDonald's etc with a 4 year degree? The rigor of your thinking is substandard and frankly disturbing, coming from a school with the reputation of Hopkins – rethink your consequences – beyond the knee-jerk of "it seems like a good idea – let's do it...."

    February 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • lalaland

      Glad you are smart enough to pick up the racist implication from the author. That is you are against his views, you are properly a racist, right? nice...

      February 8, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
      • jja

        you assumed I was "white" and kneejerked YOUR favorite prejorative – fool........

        February 8, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
      • lalaland

        ask your mama

        February 8, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • David

      That is absolutely true, the reason that a college degree is valuable is precisely due to scarcity. There is often a mention that college graduates earn more than high school graduates, the fastest way to decrease this gap is push more and more unqualified people through college, reducing the average college graduate's salary since they will be doing the same job they would have otherwise but will now have a college degree.

      February 9, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  23. The Gallant Gallstone

    There should be a right to a college education, but the people at the top aren't just going to give it up.

    We'll have to fight for it.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • nam715

      Why should college education be a "right". What about a house, should every person in the country be given a house free of rent. What about a car, everyone needs a car right? How about everyone get a Govt. Motors Volt for free? A computer and the internet. Obviously everyone should have a laptop and broadband access, otherwise how else can they possibly go to college. Does everyone need a smart phone? Health care? Television? I know this is a bit excessive, but where does it stop? At what point are people responsible for the things they want, and we help one another with the things that are needed?

      February 8, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
      • Magc

        If I were someone else I'd be speechless. Wow. An education is like a car a phone a laptop. A luxury. A visit to a typical classroom in developing Asia should strike terror in the heart of any proponent of American exceptionalism. Forget about investing in the future. Preserve your SS benefits, standard of living, globally relative low tax, federal mortgage subsidy no matter the cost. The answer to your question of how to maintain these benefits when you are no longer able to work, or , for your children, will undoubledtly read "and then, a miracle happened". You know, as for developing Asia, good for them. They have a few billion mouths to feed – maybe theylll be smart enough to invest in their future.

        February 8, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • fortworthsteeler

      there is a right to college-Go young man(or woman) and pay for it

      February 8, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • Katie

      Sure, you have a right to a college education. Now all you have to do is get a job and pay as you go or take out student loans to pay for it. No one said you have to come out of high school and immediately go through 4 years of college, then graduate expecting to earn $100,000 a year. As a business owner I would NEVER hire someone without work experience. My husband worked while earning 3 Masters degrees at GW, one of the most expensive schools in the US. We have no student loan debt. Set your priorities and get busy!

      February 8, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
      • Debbie

        Please explain how that is possible. Did he have a mortgage or if not, rent to pay to someone? Where did he work to make enough money to pay for that expensive school? If YOU wouldn't hire anyone without experience, please tell me where is someone WITHOUT experience supposed to get it? and then earn enough to pay for a master degree while paying rent, bills and school loans from an undergraduate degree?? You must have been cut from a golden cloth.

        February 8, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • Matt

      Yes, you have that right now. Go sign up, they will point you to loans, get a part time job and study hard. It will be over sooner then you think and you will be ahead of 50% of the people on this blog.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  24. Scott8285

    Just what we need is to pay for millions of degrees in sociology, basket weaving and black studies. Maybe subsidizing value adding studies like engineering so that we don,t need to import engineers would make sense. But frankly unles people work for theses things they make bad choices because there are no consequences, just more handouts

    February 8, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • jja

      1000% dead on. See, the people who are screaming that this should all be free, have not thought this through. If you were to say that we will pay for college, but you MUST major in science, engineering, math – areas we are desperately short in, these same people will tell you – "That's not fair – they should be allowed to study whatever they want."
      If you want to see how financially rewarding the "Gender Studies, African History, Cinema Studies" majors are, check out the employees at your local Starbucks or McDonald's – that's REALLY propelling the economy.....cue sarcasm....

      February 8, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • lalaland

      increased eduacation by no means translate into a more economically healthy society. we need to pay the bill first before we can enjoy the cream such as music & fine arts.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Magc

      Dead on is right. What we should fund are studies in agriculture, agribusiness, mining, energy, water resource management and desalinization, etc. You know, the things hedge fund managers hug privately while publicly preaching to you about the inexhaustible resources of the realm. Also robotics, disease management, crisis response, elder care, urban planning (reinvented for the 21st century), and targeted medical practice areas of general benefit. Our kids may gravitate to basket weaving and whatnot, but that's what hobbies are for.

      February 8, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  25. Xavier

    Free? Sure but who pays? Do not give ideas, what if Obama is reading? We are in debt for many generations, what is adding more money to the debt right? Besides NOT everyone needs, deserves or can go to college.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  26. RD

    It isn't the "government" paying for it – it's taxpayers. As a single person with no children who pays the highest tax rates and gets no tax breaks, I'm tired of paying local, state, and federal taxes that do nothing for me but fund this guys kids.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • lalaland

      Big govt = incompetent, inefficient, & corrupted. the more big govt gets into your life, the bigger it gets. you pay more more taxes. govt borrows more more $$ from foreigners until we have a $100 trillion debt.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  27. Snoop

    This is specifically for Ronnie Harper- "Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted." -Vladimir Lenin. But I suppose we dumb, neanderthal, redneck, evil, right winged, uneducated, anti-American, gun-totin', money hoarding 'Americans' would never understand the power of that quote, or the man who said it... right? I respect your opinions, even when they are misconstrued and incorrect. However, tread lightly, you tend to invalidate your own reasonings when you attack the mass majority of Americans who don't think the government should pay for college.


    February 8, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • lalaland

      Liberals like Ronald don't live in reality where resources are limited. Big govt borrows more than it takes in via taxes. And don't forget the interest payments going to foreigners. nice. let's keep ignoring the $15 trillion debt until we become like Europe. Broke & more broke.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
      • Matt

        UPDATE...... 16.3 Trillion The great one just asked for anothe 1.3 trillion.

        February 9, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  28. lalaland

    Isn't it true that rights need to be earned? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are NOT free. It's writers like these who will constantly convince you to become a "taker" in society. What about me me me? What can you or big govt do for me? When you become dependent on big govt, it's as bad as drug dependency.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  29. RDB

    First, you should have thought about how you would pay for five kids going to college before you had that many. If you can't think things trough any better then that, how should I take you seriously on this matter?
    Every time government throws a bunch of money at something, the price goes and quality goes down. Give us a short list of government programs that did what they said it would do for what they said it would cost. You can't. Education is no more a right then health care. The opportunity is a right, but it's up to each to make their own way. That's the American way, always has been. If you think kids are better educated today, then before government subsidies I would beg to differ. And lastly, how do you justify yourself having a right to force me against my will to pay for your children's education? Sure, you say they will pay it back, but will they? Even so, you still don't have a right to force your opinions on another person through mandated government subsidies. Sorry, just my opinion.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • lalaland

      over the past decades, increased public educational funding $$ has NOT improved test scores. get rid of unions, fat pensions, easy tenure

      February 8, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • js

      "how do you justify yourself having a right to force me against my will to pay for your children's education?"

      as the article makes clear, for the same reason why I am forced to pay for your mortgage

      February 8, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
      • RDB

        I have no mortgage. Nice try though. And, if I did I would not think it's anybody's responsibility to pay for it other than myself. I wouldn't dream of forcing another to pay for my obligation. Again, owning a house is not a right any more than education or health care is a right.

        February 8, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
      • js

        and I have no kids, it was a general statement just like yours. The question is why doesn't paying for people's homeownership generate as much furore as this idea? And please don't say it's the liberals.

        February 8, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
      • RDB

        JS, guess I misread the tone of your comment, sorry. I don't know why there is no uproar over bailing people out on their houses. I guess it's just the nanny state society we live in today. A sad state of affairs to be sure.

        February 8, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
      • elron1107

        Since when are two wars and endless tax breaks for the rich not a "burden?"

        February 9, 2012 at 6:33 am |
    • Magc

      You make some valid points. Now I will make a couple, one with an important caveat. If you believe in the ongoing viability of social security, you might consider the fact that the system depends on a supply of sufficiently skilled workers to fund the checks of those collecting. It is a fact that CEOs today decry the lack of skilled workers and that WSJ regularly runs articles supporting the notion that the jobs scarcity is linked to the lack of matched skilled workers.

      Second, I hesitate to raise this because you may not fit this bill at all. But you raise the question of raising 5 kids without the certainty of paying for education. Many conservatives oppose widely used family planning methods. How do you solve for that very valid question among people of faith for whom that question may not even enter the life planning equation?

      February 8, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
      • Concerned

        The corporate claim of a lack of skilled workers is the biggest deception in America. There are plenty of skilled workers in America. The problem is corporate America doesn't want to pay a fair wage for their services. I work for a Fortune 100 company and have observed them laying off many very skilled and tenured people, only to hire skilled foreigners on work visas to do the same job. They pay them about half with no benefits. Corporate America has lost it's morality and has taken capitalism to extreme limits. They have put profits ahead of all national interests. They are slowly destroying their own market by lowering the wage base in this country. Eventually, people won't be able to afford lthe expensive products they are try to sell. Of course, the CEOs running corporations don't care about the long run. They only care about maximizing profits in the near term so they can collect all of their performance based golden parachutes upon retirement. To heck with everyone else. In short greed has ruined this country.

        February 9, 2012 at 12:45 am |
  30. evarocky

    Why not a right to college? Because, simply, it is a privilege. It's the same reason why Section 8 housing isn't always in the nicest of neighborhoods. If you don't work for it, you didn't earn it!

    February 8, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • lalaland

      How about free chicken dinners for all, every friday night for every American?

      February 8, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  31. Mike K

    The author is being ingenious when he calculates the costs of his proposal when he say, " As of 2004 it would have cost approximately $30 billion to pay for the tuition and fees of everyone currently attending a public college..." First, vhe is ignoring all of the students who attend private colleges and universities. How many of them would overcrowd the public colleges and universities and balloon the cost of the program. Second, What government pays for, government will want to control. The greatest strength of our higher education system is the independence of thought and action that the faculty enjoys.

    February 8, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • lalaland

      He can have free college education for everyone as long as he agree to cut medicad medicare & let grandpa eat dog food, right? get real, resources are limited.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  32. Jim

    Because the government does such a good job of promoting ineffective education now, let us put them in charge of paying for higher education. We know they do such a great job at oversight and accountability now and in the past.

    History is imitated by those who refuse to learn from it.

    February 8, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • lalaland

      public education is in the toilet due to unions, fat pensions, easy tenure. why don't we just surrender private universities to these govt paper pushers also?

      February 8, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  33. Tom

    "Political scientist". ridiculous. Box checker, affirmative action loser.

    February 8, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • lalaland

      read carefully about his injection of "civil rights". meaning, if you don't agree with him, you are a racist. nice.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  34. Ronnie Harper

    I couldn't agree more, Professor. We can pay for it by eliminating tax-exempt status for 'churches' and other 'religious organizations'.

    February 8, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  35. Mick

    First of all, "government" does not provide anything for "free". This is a common misconception among those completely unfamiliar with the belief in personal responsibility. Every dollar they spend/waste comes from a taxpayers pocket. I am acutely aware of this, as Uncle Sugar robs me of more every year, in order to pay for all of these "free" programs. Unlike many, I do not receive a refund larger than what was deducted.

    Secondly, simply because our oversized government already does so many things they have no business being involved in (giving our money to corporations, disability payments for drug addicts, withholding "federal" funds from states that do not adhere to Fed mandates, lifetimes of welfare payments for irresponsible breeding, etc..) it does not justify spending even more to make up for the lack of foresight on the part of parents who did not plan well.

    I have repeatedly seen degreed people who do not appear to have really learned anything of value. While I am certain universities will love a new source of revenue to prop up their football programs, it does not mean that everybody is cut out for college. Shall we give every "D" average student a degree? I think not. What do you think these college kids will study? Do I need to foot the bill for the next army of lawyers or basketweavers to graduate? NO.

    "The problem with Socialism is that, sooner or later, you run out of other people's money." We are bankrupt. We have been for years. The reliance many have on the government feeding trough is EXACTLY why. Stay out of my wallet.
    Raise your OWN kids. Thank You.

    February 8, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • lalaland

      All true. Liberals who live in la la land with unlimited resources will tax you to death & borrow from foreigners till the country goes broke. Ever heard of the $15 trillion national debt? Do you walk out of a diner without paying the bill? Of course not. Everything has a cost

      February 8, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
      • Ronnie Harper

        It wasn't liberals that borrowed trillions of dollars to fight several wars for the benefit of corporatists. Maybe in lalaland, but not in the real world.

        February 8, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  36. BeFaithful

    Just who is "the government"? It's people that work and pay taxes.

    If you don't work–and hence, don't pay taxes–where is the limit to the handouts you are asking the rest of us to pay?

    February 8, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Ronnie Harper

      You hold on to your guns and money, the rest of us are going to create a new society that is learned, rational-based, and capable of running the 21st century business network. You would have us trashed with 300 million undereducated, armed, anti-government neanderthals rather than give up a few more tax dollars to make sure the nation stays savvy? Where will your nation be when it is full of brainless know-nothings? You right-wingers may be rich, but you sure are stupid. You like to fight losing battles for corporatists that have their boots on your necks. You hold the hand that holds you down.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
      • lalaland

        more $$ into the educational system does not increase test results. decades of increased educational funding & yet we rank beyond 20th in math & science on a global scale. unions, fat pensions, & easy tenure are all problems. think about that next time some govt worker yells "think about the kids" when they really mean "think about my wallet / purse"

        February 8, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
      • Jack

        You, sir, are a big part of the problem. Show me a society in which 95% of high school students graduate, and with B or better averages, and without having children that they then abandon, and I'll consider paying my taxes to provide "free" college education. Right now we provide "free" education through 12th grade, and too many cannot (or choose not to work to) make it that far. By 18, those who do graduate (and even those who don't) are legally adults and can earn their own ways – including college tuition. Why would I pay for them to spend four (+) years in college before paying taxes? Dumbest idea that I've heard in years!!!

        February 8, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
      • Tim

        Hey Jack,

        Try Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway...
        Un-skilled labor jobs are becoming non-existent in this country thanks our friends over in China who will do them all at a fraction of the cost. Time to think about moving people up that food chain.

        February 8, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
      • MO

        Really? Your logic is pathetic and wreaks of laziness. I can only guess that you are part of the OCCUPY generation! Please explain to everyone what will drive a society to flourish when the 51% of a society that supports the other 49% of that society realizes that they are the sole source of everyones existence? What impetus will there be for anyone to do anything? Should we as a governed society come to the "aid" our fellow citizens? Yes, we should. However, by no means should we be compelled by mandate of law to be our brothers keeper in any form or fashion. There is no such thing as a free lunch...words often quoted, but rarely fully understood. So tell everyone...why do you or your children, or the professors children deserve a free lunch?

        February 9, 2012 at 1:50 am |
    • mikeM

      Why should my taxes pay the salaries of liberal professors?

      February 8, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
      • Ronnie Harper

        Because liberal professors educate tax payers.

        February 8, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
      • lalaland

        liberal educators pollute young minds.

        February 8, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  37. Stephen Clark

    This sounds like a bailout of the higher education industry. Don't confuse education with schooling. Much or the value of college is signaling the graduates as being more capable than non-graduates and not the classroom component says economist Bryan Caplan. College may expose you to some good teaching and some good reading material. Economist Richard Vedder says 17 million college grads are working in jobs that the BLS says requires skill levels lower than needing a college degree. I agree that with the author that for some students federal funding of their college tuition would be a good return on investment for the nation.

    February 8, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Ronnie Harper

      Really? It sounds like a 'bailout'? Educating our seriously dumb populace sounds like a 'bailout', Karl Rove?

      February 8, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  38. markishere

    The government doesn't like the prospect of a well-educated public.

    February 8, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  39. Kevin

    Most kids are idiots who will complain that math is too hard, give up on it, and get a liberal arts degree. Then they will go work for the government and continue the cycle.

    February 8, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • lalaland

      govt jobs = waste, corruption, incompetence. paper pushers don't grow the pie, just eat it to pieces.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
      • Kevin

        I wasn't implying that government jobs do anything – more like when those lib arts grads that go to work for the gov't get to supervisory/managerial positions, they will continue to support programs that continue to support the earning of generic liberal arts degrees.

        February 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
      • matt

        right, because teachers, firemen, and the military are such wasteful jobs

        February 8, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
      • lalaland

        funny how people claim all govt workers are police teachers firefighters.....keep living in denial & pay more taxes

        February 8, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • Ronnie Harper

      You think most kids will get a liberal arts degree? I wish. Government jobs make it possible for you to live safely in the greatest nation on Earth. Denegrating our government, like you right-wingers and your candidates do incessantly, makes you sound like imbeciles – almost brainless. If our government workers are so horrible, why wouldn't you want to live somewhere where they are better – like maybe Denmark, or Finland? Our government workers bust their asses to make sure you live in a prosperous society that is free from tyranny and war and all you can say is that their lazy, incompetent, etc.? Our DHHS workers, penning away PO's day in and day out – they're saving lives, preparing you for disasters – these are serious workers with busy days, doing very important work. The big government argument is so popular today among the right-wing and religious extremists in our country precisely because they don't have a liberal arts education. They haven't read Plato or studied the workers rights movement that created a whole new environment today, haven't learned to play the piano or studied the great European artists, and generally don't have even the basic reading skills necessary to learn or understand the centuries of reasoning and learning that built our great government in the first place. So dumb, so clueless – you just bellow like a neanderthal, fighting against your own rights for corporatists that don't care one iota about you.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  40. Roberto

    great idea so all the people that don't wanna work after high school but don't wanna really study will go wasting time at the university in some stupid majors that will do NOTHING to prepare them for the job market and they will do it because IT WILL COST THEM NOTHING...but taxpayers will have to pay...That's what happens in Italy and many other countries who are less educated, have higher taxes and declining economies

    February 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • lalaland

      True. When it costs nothing to receive benefits, one can only abuse the system. Just look at "online colleges" & for profit colleges. Many of them just want your $ & if you don't have any, they will gladly help you borrow it from the govt until you hit the max & all the $ is gone. You are left with huge loans & piece of paper employers may not care for.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
  41. Dave Dietz

    If we gave everyone A FREE RIDE (which we are halfway doing today with our tax paying money), how is THAT keeping the population down if we are over populated and have a resource problem?????? A global warming, too many people problem?

    such HYPOCRISY. It's all "sounds good" to people's ears without THINKING, while the government knows it can't take care of everyone, hence it MURDERS you. Look at how many people are persecuted in Communist & Socialist regimes, NAZI Germany? NAZI = National Socialism, etc. Wake up! Just leave humanity alone, provide a FREE Market by ending PROHIBITION and this gives humanity the incentive to work for themselves. Get the government out of the way!

    see my prohibition page (yeah our liberties are severely prohibited which is WHY education is expense and my blog is educating you and it's NON-PROFIT. NOTE: Education is worthless anyway when you live in a world of FALSEHOOD, LIES. DISinformation, which dumbs everyone down.

    February 8, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • lalaland

      Real nice how the write brings up "civil rights", injecting race as one of his defense of his article. Meaning, if you don't agree with me, you are a racist, right? Nice.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
      • RDB

        And the race card has been over played to the point it is now meaningless anyway.

        February 8, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  42. abby

    I think it would be good for the government to provide the first two years of college education free. Allow the young people to mature and to ascertain what they really want to do in life. I also would want in return a commitment to serve the country in some capacity - for example, someone wants to teach would agree to teach in their community at a reduced rate of pay for two years. If the student proves to be successful in those two years, there should be scholarships made available for additional time in service to the community. For each year of free education the student would serve the community for one year. That way a student graduates without horrendous debt and gets experience and the community gets an educated professional at a reduced rate for a period of time and saves money. But I guess that would make too much sense.

    February 8, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • lalaland

      in theory an endless resource would be "nice" but fact is, we live if reality & fixed budgets. if you want free education, we'll have to cut something else. wait, people will start screaming that it's mean & grandma will start eating cat food

      February 8, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  43. cb

    An idea has been circulated for the government to pay for college and then the graduated student pays the government back 5% of the salary they earn.

    February 8, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  44. Ilona

    One of the points made in the article was addressing the escalating cost of higher eduction. There are many universities that expend more effort and money in getting qualified students for their athletics departments then they do in actively searching for motivated students – students who actually want to LEARN something instead of just having something to do after graduating from high school. There are many students that have no clue how to study or work and should never even go to college. Their lower eduction skills are so rudimentary that they are lost when they enter college and think that it's just one big party with no work involved. That's why the attrition rate is so high in this country as compared to other countries. Until we get our children to actually want to go to school and enjoy learning and studying, we shouldn't even think about paying for college. If you want to learn or better yourself there are many colleges that offer free access to their courses – even MIT! No accreditattion but you can learn and take tests for credit. There are many ways to work with the current system but first these children have to learn the basics and good study habits and discipline – seriously lacking in today's education system and children (and many parents). My family and I came here as Hungarian refugees and had to work for everything that we had – I got a scholarship to college and worked 32 hours a week while in college in addition to credit loads of 18-22 credits in the sciences. Exhausted? Yes but no time to get into trouble! I was fortunate to be taught the joy of learning and I think that it is one thing that many of today's youth are seriously missing out on.

    February 8, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  45. matt

    yes free school for students it makes since... when someone says that government should not be involved with the education of our young, then they misread human nature, and the nature of civilization...

    February 8, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Easy Rhino

      Not only free education, each student should get a free Mercedes Benz to drive to school

      February 8, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
      • matt

        so you think it is an accurate comparison for a society to provide all of its young with free education to help it enter into productive society with buying a luxury car?

        February 8, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • matt


      February 8, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  46. Chippy91

    I like this guy! Lol.

    Ok, in all seriousness: Maybe college shouldn't be free as I do agree with many of the comments above stating that taxpayers shouldn't be obligated to pay for some baboon's education when they're just going to screw around and not take it seriously. But those of you who are against this idea need to understand how difficult—and basically unfair (since college didn't always this expensive)—it is for college students like myself to afford our education. The price of a higher education is out of control!

    I go to Montclair State University in northern New Jersey where our president, Susan Cole, and her administration are paid a ridiculously high salary and then are awarded an absurd bonus each year. And yet, our school is "hurting" for money and hence drives up or tuition. Do any of you older-and-likely-already-college-graduates realize how difficult it's going to be for us to pay of our debts? Especially in this crumby and highly unstable economy your generation has created? I come from a family of 6 (2 parents, 4 college-aged children) who are on the higher end of the middle class scale and so we don't receive any financial aid...even though 3 of us are triplets which means yes, we're all in college at once. After sitting down with multiple financial advisors, my parents and I are still struggling with how we're going to pay for our education. As loyal and good American citizens who all have GPAs of 3.5 & higher, should being unable to afford college deny us the right to an education and hence, a better future? I personally believe that nobody should harness the power to deny any person basic GOD-GIVEN rights. In a well-developed country such as ours, we shouldn't have to tell people they can't have the chance for a better life simply because they can't afford education. I personally am not too educated (YET) on this issue and how it impacts our government, but SOMETHING needs to change...and not just some propositions by a President who already has a hard time convincing our insanely corrupt Congress!

    Let me just leave you with this remark: When my parents (and people of their generation) graduated college in the late 70s, they began their new lives with a debt of $0, since college was cheap enough for many families to pay for their education up-front. Fast forward 30-35 years and now, when my generation and I graduate college, many of us will begin OUR NEW LIVES with debts anywhere from a few thousands to several hundreds of thousands. Already I'm $60,000 in debt after two years and unfortunately, the program I'm enrolled in here requires me to be here 5 years just for a Bachelor's degree. How are we (we as in my generation) to pay off our debts if our economy is unstable and jobs are hard to find? And what happens if we can't? SOMETHING. NEEDS. TO. CHANGE. Maybe higher education shouldn't be free, but it cannot remain as costly as it is now. Thanks for bearing with me (to those who read this far lol) and I hope I opened up some eyes to this ridiculous problem in our country!

    February 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Jo Ann

      Well said! I am one of those 1970s-era college grads and I can attest that the costs at my public alma mater are ten times what they were when I attended. Minimum wage hasn't even tripled in that time frame. You deserve the same opportunities that we had.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  47. Kkmmssgg

    By giving everyone the opportunity to go to college you are devaluing higher education. I've worked in higher Ed for the past 7 years. There are some people that just shouldn't go to college and their parents make them go because it's the next logical step. You can be poor as dirt but if you study hard and work your butt off you can get scholarships and aid. Nothing worth doing in life is rewarding if it doesn't have challenges. I am 30 and will probably be paying off my student loans until I'm 40. But that was my choice, and why should taxpayers pay for my college education? I'd rather get more assistance buying a house...and as a parent to two children it is my responsibility to encourage them and support them in their academic endeavors. As a liberal I think this is a dumb idea. Student loan forgiveness, now that's a different story.

    February 8, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  48. Sunbow

    There is NO MONEY!!! Pay for your own education!!!

    February 8, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • jeff

      there is no money, because our stupid government has been fighting in two wars, the largest of which is now 10 years long! MAKE IT STOP. 15 trillion in debt, so they probably spent twice that killing people. Why shouldn't we educate people instead??

      February 8, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
      • Mike Speakman

        So by your stance you are volunteering to be the next target for terrorists? Get real people, we are in a war that has been going on since the inception of Islam and will continue until Islam is no longer or there are no longer free peoples in the world.

        February 8, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  49. Texas Annie

    I just see too many people anymore always looking for something for free– the proverbial handout. Here's a thought– parents, plan ahead & start saving for college by the time your firstborn arrives. Yeah, you'll have to give up that new car every couple of years or those vacations to the beach or the weekly dinners at the finest restaurants or always having the most current "in" clothes.... but sometimes you gotta go thru a little pain to make good things happen. And it won't kill kids to work part time to help pay their bills– nobody said Mom & Dad have to continue to support them for freakin' ever. And for those who still don't have the bucks despite their best efforts, there are scholarships, grants, financial need aide, & even student loans, etc. I put two thru private colleges & you betcha I gave up a lot to make it happen, but they worked too & they made excellent grades (that you need to instill from the get go, too) and they are both well employed self sufficient adults now. I'm proud of the fact that we did it together without whining or taking a dime that we didn't pay back. It CAN be done. It depends on how badly you want it & how hard you're willing to work to make it happen.

    February 8, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  50. Joe

    I don't like the "right" to anything, excepting freedom. The role of government should be: 1. Defending our borders, and 2. Enforcing laws. That's it.

    The #1 problem we have is taxation on income. This is basically the notion that the government knows how to spend your money better than you do. The government should be getting its funding from: 1. Stiff import tariffs, 2. Luxury taxes, and 3. Donations.

    To give everyone the "right" to a "free" college education means *more* income taxation... because that money's not coming out of thin air. In reality, 13 years of school (K-12) should be ***plenty*** to teach reading, writing, arithmetic, science, and a trade (yes, even medicine). We're human beings, not cows. The problem is the way education is implemented, not that more is necessary.

    February 8, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  51. Jackie

    As a teacher that is currently paying back student loans, and will be until I am 55, I think this is a terrible idea. Increase internships and work-study programs. Have the big companies fund the people they think are appropriate for the jobs that will come available as people retire. Public service people already have the incentive to get a portion of their loan reduced (nurses, teachers, social workers, and police that I know of off the top of my head) when they complete a ceratin number of years in a low income area. The military helps to fund those that are enrolled for a military commitment. There is no way we can pay for the education of people getting ready to go to school until the rest of us can stand on our feet without having to worry about paying back loans for a state school or pay our insurance premiums. If mortgage deduction is taken away, those of us that currently have student loans and mortgages will be at the bottom of the heap, which would be silly since we are paying back the education we chose to get and keeping a roof over our heads. The nation is in trouble because of ideas like those presented in this article. Perhaps instead of parents footing the bill (must be nice for thoise that do), potential student should have to work for a ceretain amount of months, prove work history and the ability to make a commitment before enrolling in school. There could be an option to have a portion of your earning (pre-tax) withheld and given to the college you choose to go to when you are ready to make that commitment. This would lower the individual taxable income and give you incentive to further your education.

    February 8, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  52. 2yourmama

    How about you pay for it yourself!

    February 8, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  53. Why Use Facts

    So in theory if everyone got a college degree then everyone would earn more since people with degrees currently earn more. But in reality if everyone had a four year degree then it would become the equivalent of a high school diploma. Then it would mean you need a Masters degree or Doctorate to earn more than other people. Since the "government" (other peoples tax money) is paying why not get the advanced degree and make them equivalent to a high school diploma?

    February 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • A

      If everyone was more educated, we would be more productive as a society, and everyone would be better off. (Assuming that people chose an educational path that is actually beneficial to society.)
      Also, we are living in a GLOBAL economy. That means you aren't just competing with Americans for jobs. In the global economy jobs are won by either having higher worker productivity or by having lower wages, which would you like?
      (Not saying that I necessarily agree that the government should pay for everyone's college education, though.)

      February 8, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
      • Why Use Facts

        I don't have a college degree and I am very productive. I work very hard and earn good money. I make more than many who have college degrees. Don't tell me that a college degree makes people more productive. Work ethics are what make people productive and you don't learn that while getting a college degree that you aren't paying for.

        February 8, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  54. I agree

    I agree. Why spend all of that money on weapons when we have a whole world to educate? We can teach ourselves a lot for free now though. so...i see education changing a lot in the future more towards free schools. maybe different things for different people. its already a mess.

    February 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Guest

      War, oppression, crime, and all of the other bad things in this world will NEVER end. Face reality. Stopping spending money on weapons is about as possible as firing all of the police.

      February 8, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  55. Guest

    "Get the government to pay for it..." The government doesn't magically have money. It takes the money from 53% of Americans who pay taxes. So, you are really saying that 53% of Americans should pay for college. Also, how exactly is this going to help the country? If everyone in America has a four year degree, will no one be doing labor in America? Or will we have people working construction with BS degrees? How many college educated waitresses does this country need. People who want to go to college for free already can. There are plenty of scholarships available. There is no point in taxpayers (not all Americans) paying for some unmotivated person to go on a four year vacation.

    February 8, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  56. xeno

    How much would be wasted on kids that just went to college to party on the government dime? I would love for college to be more accessible to more people, but we can't just pay for anyone and everyone. My husband's idea for our son is this: When he goes to college, he takes out student loans in his name to pay for it. If he graduates with a reasonably useful degree, we pay it off for him. If he flounders, doesn't take it seriously and drops out, the loans are his. Tough, but motivating.

    February 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Why Use Facts

      Wonderful idea, wish I had made that agreement with my son before he went and then dropped out with a bunch of debt.

      February 8, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  57. richard evans broughton

    Blithered Dribble,
    Truly, why does CNN waste it's time on angry advocates for a free ride in life. Do you really think that anyone of
    substance or influence would waste their time on books or articles based on the influence of hip – hop chants.
    Admittedly, the first paragraph was good for a laugh, but further reading would have been foolish.

    February 8, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  58. sebulus

    Who's going to return all the money that other citizens paid for college?

    February 8, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  59. mike58

    the GOV has been in the Education business for years it's called the Dept of Education and you see how well that is run. Do you really want them deeper in your business

    February 8, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  60. yahmez

    This would generate trillions more in debt, and cause taxes to rise dramatically. We need to improve the quality of education in the schools we already pay for. Many graduate with no useful skills in the job market. Fix what we have FIRST!

    February 8, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • mike58

      careful you are sounding like a Conservative

      February 8, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Missing the point

      You mean this would create an increase in tax revenue because higher educated people can demand higher pay which in turns creates higher taxes being paid unlike our capital gains tax rate of 15%.

      February 8, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  61. JACK


    February 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • yahmez

      Typical conservative, does not know how to turn off caps lock, or use punctuation.

      February 8, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Missing the point

      What happened to the principal of bettering our society? We invest in military and subsidize the sugar and corn industries why not for the children (future tax payer)? You want to get rid of the national debt for the children but not educate them?

      February 8, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • JOH

      GTFO. So sorry many of us weren't born into wealthy families. My parents literally shed blood, sweat, and tears just to make enough to pay the bills. I got a job to help pay the bills but because I make too much money for a dependent, I don't get federal college aid? I give my parents majority of the money I make. We still struggle to pay the bills, and we are VERY careful and strict on budget. So it's my fault I don't get to go to college? While rich and arrogant spoiled brats go to college, binge drink, just "get by" for a piece of paper, and get hired a six figure salary job hooked up from your family friend. And I go to a community college to save money. It's disgusting because about a decade ago, they used to say "No child left behind. Education for all." So this is all my fault huh? While you use tax money for pointless war on drugs and waste even more money on crack dealers in Section 8 housing with better lifestyle than my family. My parents just turned 51 and they are extremely weak, physically. Ill, exhausted, and torn apart. I rarely complain because there are worse situations than me... but it's exhausting and frustrating nonstop. Step in our shoes for a second and realize you would feel the exact same things. It feels like the middle-class are being restricted to advancement, as if people are telling us "to stay in our place."

      February 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
      • NonBeliever

        Actually it's your parents' fault for having kids they couldn't afford to care for and educate.

        February 9, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  62. Kathy, Maryland

    I think it's funny that Lester mentions the "GI Bill" but apparently doesn't know what it is.


    The government does pay 100% of college tuition if you join the military which is the way it should be because this is not a welfare country. Do some research on your topic and google "Post 9/11 GI Bill".

    February 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  63. mrl

    get the gov. out of the student loan business. sit back and watch the price of tuition fall. that simple.

    February 8, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Reality check

      No really, is that a joke?

      February 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
      • mrl

        there is a direct link to the number of student loans vs. the rising cost of pubilc schools. as the price goes up a easy loan is a must. you can no longer work your way through a 4 year school. aid is a must.

        February 8, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  64. Blue

    Want Uncle Sam to pay for your College? Show YOUR investment in your nation, head to your nearest Recruitment Center and Enlist for 4+ years.

    I Suggest USAF, It worked for me to get my Degrees.

    February 8, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  65. Bob

    Some basic flaws in your theory. Comparing the mortgage deduction to paying for tuition is ludicrous. The government doesn't make my mortgage payments for me! I just get a small portion of that back as a deduction. However, you're talking about paying the full tuition for people. Vastly different scenarios. Secondly, where did you ever get the idea that the government pays for anything. The government does not generate any income. They get all of their money from taxpayers. So, it's not the government who would pay for your idea, it's the taxpayers. I can understand why your aren't an Economics professor.

    February 8, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Julnor

      Spot on. The govt only has tax payer money. What he wants is for someone else to pay for his kids' college.

      February 8, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  66. mike58

    If the GOV pays for my college do they then have the right to tell me what to study and where to go to school and where to live after college to use my education.

    February 8, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Cliste


      Of course the government will not ignore the rights of its citzens simply because they have taken on the expense to educate those citizens. Even the most brief reflection on Spence's argument will reveal that he took the time to preclude your criticism by offering examples of federal spending geared toward innovation in the business world. Thus, paying for the higher education of the American citizenry seems a logical extension of this same practice. It is troubling to see that you are easily able to ignore this point, and employ rhetoric geared toward conjuring images of fascism. Spense is not talking about limiting rights; He argues that they should be extended to include a right to higher education. He makes a quite rational case for the adoption of this policy, whereas your response, by contrast, stikes me as highly irrational and marred by the "slippery slope" fallacy. I emplore you to reread Spense's post, and reconsider your position on this issue.

      February 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  67. Bite me

    I think it's ludicrous to even suggest taking away mortgage interest deductions from homeowners to fund everyone's college education. WHY DON'T WE TAKE AWAY GRANT MONEY USED TO FUND EDUCATION AND USE IT TO PAY FOR OUR MORTGAGE INTEREST??????????????????

    February 8, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  68. Robert

    If I had 5 kits, I'd need help with college tuition as well. Let's not stop there – the governemt can also pay for their cars and auto insurance – that stuff is expensive too. Oh, and medical insurance while we're at it. And daycare while they're young.

    Our problem is not that we don't have enough educated pepole. It's that we don't have enough jobs for the ones that we have. This wouldn't address that problem at all. In fact, more government spending would probably make it worse.

    February 8, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Jim

      Our trusted leaders are way too busy bombing people in third world countries to even begin to notice what goes on at home – and, they don't care !

      February 8, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Missing the point

      A lot of the corporate world says there are shortages in skilled people. So educating who want to go to college and perhaps make the grades to do so, should have the opportunity to go. I wouldn't mind my tax dollars to pay for it as long as they aren't wasting it. This could mean people getting a better paying job and better opportunities to find a job. Also not to mention more taxes into the government. One issue is this would hurt military recruitment for all those wars we like spending our tax payer dollars on.

      February 8, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
      • mike58

        i mine my tax dollar being used that way

        February 8, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
      • Julnor

        Not all college educated people have the skills that companies need. Companies are in need of people with technical abilities (engineering, math, computer science, etc.), not so much for people with degrees in English literature.

        February 8, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
      • Missing the point

        Not all companies care what your degree is in as long as you have one. I know of at least one History major and an Anthropology major using their degree to retain a job not in their field. I am sure an English literature major can find a technical writing position in any corporation. Or simply write a book which would make them self employed, which depending on the money made off the book would mean more taxes coming in.

        February 8, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
      • Missing the point

        I am sure you do "mine" your tax dollars being used that way. Perhaps you should "mine" your tax dollars going to subsidize the sugar industry as well as the corn industry or perhaps you should "mine" you are taxed at a higher rate then someone simply sitting on their butts making investments. I personally don't mind my money going to better our society as a whole so they become more educated which can demand more from the companies we subsidize to make profits off our tax dollars.

        February 8, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  69. Victoria

    As a freshman in college I could not agree more that having the government pay for my tuition would be great. I had roomed with exchange students from Europe and they payed maybe $500 for their tuition. Maybe using what Europe's Universities have installed wouldn't be such a bad idea. Of course I wouldn't see this happening for quite some time, but to have the opportunity to go to a great school that offers exactly what you want is incredible. I can not begin to explain how many colleges I was forced to turn down because it was too expensive and would take me until I'm 35 to pay off my student loans. Yes everyone has the right to a higher education and there will always be those handful of people that just throw the opportunity away, but the fact of the matter is the benefit for the public to gain knowledge out weighs the risks tremendously. It is practically required to have a college degree to get a steady job nowadays.

    February 8, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Rich

      Let us do it as Europe does, at age 12 we will test and decide what your profession will be.

      February 8, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
      • Julnor

        Rich is correct. Talk about high stakes testing!

        February 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  70. Mike Speakman

    It's not the government that would pay for this program. It's the tax payers who would be forced to pay for this program and I for one think that paying for ones higher education should be left up to the individual. That's right, it's too big an expense to expect parents to pay for it either. I do believe that we would see better results from higher education in this case and parents could concentrate on saving for their retirement instead of putting their children through school.

    The author mentioned the Mortgage Interest Deduction, I haven't been able to claim that for at least a couple years now, and I have most definitely paid mortgage interest. It really doesn't matter further additions to the tax code are not needed now. What would be better is to do away with all deductions, credits and tax loop holes for everyone. Then set a single income tax rate for everyone. This is the only fair income tax.

    February 8, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Missing the point

      We go to a flat tax and the poor and struggling families will riot. Our roads and bridges and social services will collapse.

      February 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  71. tunatofu

    Not everybody is college material (OK, in plain words, they don't have the intelligence or moxie to get any benefit from it). And what about "gradual students" or those that change majors like they change underwear and never quite seem to graduate? Should we pay for them to slack as "students" forever?

    February 8, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  72. JBP

    I think it's a great idea to invest into our future like the government is with corporations already. The fight really wouldn't be from the parents and students but the state governments that fund these public universities and the universities themselves where tuition brings money into the states as well as the college. Many states have policies of keeping that money seperate from state operating budgets but the governments are finding ways to benefit from all the money coming in. The cost of college has risen tremedously over the last 10 years but the quality for education hasn't in terms of the way cost has risen. These public universities are becoming cash cows for the states much like the top sport within the athletic department of a school does in terms of increasing advertising pubilicity and merchandise sales for the schools does. Much like how college presidents want to keep the bowl system in place for college football due to the large T.V. contracts. The presidents and boards of these universities don't want to see a cap put onto how much a school can charge for tuition when the federal government starts paying for everyones tuition.

    February 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  73. Sane Guy

    I got a bachelor's degree in engineering in the 1980's. I had some scholarship help the first few years (a scholarship I earned by working hard in high school), I worked 30+ hours a week while I was in high school, and I chose a university with a co-op program so that I could work my way through college as well. When I was at school and not on co-op I worked weekends fixing cars to help pay for school. I ended up graduating and owing about $20,000 in student loans when I was done. My parents were too poor to pay for any of it, although I did live at home the first two years.

    And what's wrong with that is... NOTHING. Those years flew by and taught me more about how to survive in the world than any free hand-out education ever would have. I took my education very seriously because of the investment I put into it, unlike this political science professor who apparently missed the class where they explained the difference between subsidies and tax deductions.

    If you want to do something useful for today's college students (and I am currently paying for two of them), figure out why the cost of tuition has inflated so much relative to the cost of living.

    February 8, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Missing the point

      I see some of your points but I would rather subsides go to kids like yourself and myself to pay for college. I had 26k in debt in 2000 and having to worry to pay for that and finding a job is pretty stressful. We subsidize the sugar industry why can't we subsidize education for kids who have the grades and interest to get a higher education and deserve it. I know the Fed government and states definitely benefit now from my college degree with what I am paying taxes.

      February 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  74. glyder

    i cannot afford your ideas.unless i go on welfare and ride in the wagon instead of pull.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  75. alyarby

    Here's the reason NOT to do it, Mr. Spence: Because TAXPAYERS, who are after all, the real people behind any money that the government thinks belongs to it, don't want to pay for everybody's education with their hard-earned money. This is NOT what I want my tax dollars to fund. Now that we owe $15 trillion, now - let's pay for eveyrone's college education. And this clown teaches at - perish the thought - Johns Hopkins??? Oh dear...

    February 8, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Missing the point

      Higher level educated people means more tax dollars for them to waste.

      February 8, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  76. Bobbito

    (1)... This page needs a Facebook 'Like' button, if it had one I would've clicked it a dozen times.

    (2)... What a rational and straightforward argument. Think about it, America is quickly becoming the land of the Dollar Menu (read Fastfood Nation if you don't know what I mean). We're falling behind in almost every major category (medicine, science and research, etc.). What our nation needs is more people with advanced educations, and at least removing the financial hurdle from that equation makes us all the more likely to advance our productivity. Having a more educated work force means more money for everybody, especially those who cry about having their taxes pay for an 'ignoramus' to complete college.

    Realistically, $30 Bln is a drop in the bucket compared to other government spending. Lets take some of that money from (1) welfare (no reason to remain uneducated and dependent on the system)
    (2) military (a more educated workforce can help produce the technology for our soldiers to accomplish with 10 men what it used to take 15)
    (3) corporate subsidies (like farm subsidies, OMG!).

    That way the entire system gets funded without raising taxes on the cry babies, and without significantly damaging any one program (I think the above 3 areas of government spending could find at least $5 Bln in savings, and afford budgetary shrinkage of another $5 Bln).

    In the end, everybody wins. Over time, the welfare program would be significantly smaller than it is today by having removed this barrier to enhancing individual productivity, meaning lower taxes for everybody! As the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. Investing in ourselves is the best possible thing America could do today.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  77. Maff

    It was said before, handing out more degrees does not mean that there will be jobs waiting for them. Especially when the Gov't is piling on more debt.

    I have a better idea. Instead of teaching people the same history, science, english class every year for at least 5 out of the k-12 years, why not teach skilled trades. Its good to get your math, english, history and science down, but i remember being a kid wondering how im going to use this stuff. And I have a good job and i dont use any of it. I have a skilled trade. I have work for an employer and myself. I can barter and trade. I plan on expanding knowledge into other skills as well. Maybe own a business one day. I think if we educate our children with the basics, economic class k-12, and skilled trades, that it would create an indepence and ultimately an expansion in our economy. Instead of sending kinds to school to be dependent on the system. Hoping they pick the right field of study in college, and hope they can pay for it, and hope there is a job waiting for them when they graduate. And when it doesn't pan out... they dont know what to do. If they had a skilled trade, they would know what to do

    February 8, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  78. Stan Robinson

    HorseHockey, Lester. Who's denying anyone permission to APPLY to any school. That's all you get. Whether you're accepted is up to you and the school. As far as PAYING for it goes, that, pal, is your responsibility. You want the benefit? You pay for it. I'm already paying for 13 years of school for you people and frankly, that's enough. I'm tired of handing over many thousands of $$ every year to see ignoramus graduates that can't seem to distinguish "your" from "you're". Or "its" and "it's". So suck it up my man. Put your money where your prolific mouth is and pay for what you want. It's the only way you and your brats are gonna appreciate it.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Drew J

      Stan. You are an idiot.
      "You people..." Keep your idiotic racism to yourself. How can anyone take your argument seriously given your obvious racist tone?
      We are losing the fight in a global economy because "we Americans" aren't getting the education needed to compete on a global scale.
      BTW. Your president is black. I know you must love that. The current GOP field is pitiful and will lose the general election. Gays are getting married everywhere you turn! Chew on that.

      February 8, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
      • Come on

        Drew there was nothing racist about Stan's comment. He didn't even say "you people". Come on you are better than that.

        February 8, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
      • Obama sucks

        Guess what Drew...in order for Obama to get elected again he's going to need the white vote too because the black population is only 35% so even if every black person voted for Obama he wouldn't get elected if every white person voted for the other candidate. Sad but true. Even if the Republican candidate sucks, Obama's chances aren't as good as you may think.

        February 8, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
      • Missing the point

        You may want to re-read his statement unless he edited it.
        BTW Obama is half white not just black which means he is bi-racial. which means he is not the first black president but the first bi-racially white and black president.

        February 8, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
      • KF

        go look up the electoral college and then come back and talk about how the percentage of which races affects the presidential election again.

        February 9, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  79. JH

    Lets get something straight. The federal government does not "spend" anything on the home mortgage deduction. The taxpayer is not being taxed on those expenses so they are getting to keep more of their own money. The government can not spend money until it has taken it in the form of taxes. Mr. Spence is part of the problem by continuing the belief that the money you earn is really the governments to decide if you can keep it or not.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Maff

      right you are my friend!

      February 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • basketcase

      While it's not technically "spending," it is what's known as a tax expenditure. It really wouldn't be any different if the government took the money and handed it back to them.

      February 8, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  80. Kevin

    This is a great idea!

    I'm right wing, upper middle class and don't like the government wasting money, but this would not be a waste of money. I see it as more of an investment in the country similar to roads. For every dollar spent on roads a multiple of that is gained in tax revenue.

    An educated workforce would create more tax base and less need for social programs to help the poor. Cost should not be an excuse for people not to go to college. Sure many will still not want to put forth the effort but those that do would reap the rewards not just for themselves and their families but the country in general.

    Full funding of college would benefit the middle class greatly. My son is currently attending a public university and I can say from experience that the middle class has it tough. About half the scholarships are for the poor and the rich have plenty to send their children to college. In the middle it’s quite a drain.

    I believe a lot of this country’s past success was based on the GI Bill educating a generation of Americans.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Big Bob

      That's just great, Kevin!

      That is, if they taught anything that was worth something. But you're right. At this point, higher education has been noting but leftist indoctrination, so the government may as well pay for it. Churn out the prolitariet!

      February 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Dan

      "If the government pays for it..."? The government is US. You and me. You are just spreading it out across more people. Secondly, if free, do you really think that the level of enrollment would stay the same and not climb astronomically? Increasing the cost to taxpayers? And, like Obamacare, it would then be up to the government as to what is taught, as is the case in K-12? I really wish people would think through ideas before just drinking the kool-aid.

      February 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
      • Kevin

        Yes we would all pay for it, but we would also benefit from it too. The average college grad earns twice that of a high school grad. Given that taxes are higher the more you earn that college grad will pay more in extra taxes in the long run than the cost of the education.

        February 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
      • Missing the point

        Grab a cup and start drinking because everybody knows higher educated people means higher paid people and that means more taxes...wait... except for capitol gains folks.

        February 8, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • TLB


      The GI billis is still educating a vast majority of college students; the difference is that those students had to give something up to get the GI bill in the first place. These people (myself included) put their lives on the line numerous times and one of the benefits provided was the GI bill. The GI bill is an opportunity to imporve oneself both personally and professionally and the Army pays for soldiers to go to school while on active duty. So, my point is that if someone wants a higher education they should have to earn it; the tax payers should not bear the responsibility to put others through college, that is a personal choice.

      February 8, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  81. Mark B.

    This article is utopian nonsense. Not everyone would benefit from college. Taxes couldn't pay for this. Give everyone the 100,000 grand 4 years would cost directly and let them sink or swim. How stupid is this article?

    February 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • reddysmama

      Sorry, Mark but this plan is not utopian nonsense. European countries have been doing similar plans for years. Difference being that only those in the top percentage are accepted. Those that don't pass the exams head for lower level. Here you can go in if you can pay, even if you don't do much once you get there. Across the water, your cost is down but you've got to work like mad to get and stay in.

      February 8, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
      • Bob

        And what is the tax rate in European countries? You just don't get something for nothing.

        February 8, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • SkepticCinic

      It would just make us one of the best educated countries in the world. Not number 57 and dropping.

      February 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  82. Maff

    I have to roll with nolan on this. Although this seems like a nice idea at first glance(if you dont mind socialism), it would ultimately devalue higher education. It would bring down the cost of 90% of the schools, and likely raise the cost of top 10%. The top(elite) schools prices would rise and they would expand to different branches to accomodate the students with the most potential(who currently do not qualify for elite schools, yet attend good schools). Basically the same amount of students in the good schools today would all be absorbed into the elite schools, while the people who wouldnt naturally attend college would attend the once good colleges, which would decrease is cost and quality of education. It would be just like private school vs public schools k-12.
    So initially it would devalue higher education, similar to how printing too many dollars devalues the currency...
    ...following that the quality of education would once again begin to stratify. The best educated get the job, and the rest get a degree that holds the same weight of todays highschool diploma/GED.
    So all your doing is adding 4 more years of school to peoples lives to graduate and work the job at mcdonalds they had since 16

    February 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • basketcase

      Since when did the students with the most potential not qualify for the elite schools?

      February 8, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  83. dabeast63

    I am sorry folks, this is just another hand out the government can not afford nor the tax payers want. I see the arguements that state that with more degrees, graduates will get higher paying jobs, the tax base will go up, etc. All you have to do is look at the unemployment lines or ask your college graduate working at McDonalds how that theory works. Jobs do not magically appear just because you have more people with a degree. What about those who are attending college, and on their 5th, 6th, or 8th year, still do not have a degree? Are we as tax payers required to continue to fund their educations? Sorry folks, if you want your child to have an education, save for it from the moment they are conceived or have them join the military. They offer great tuiton assistance programs. But do me a favor, keep your hands out of my pockets, I'll pay for my childrens college.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  84. Ryan

    Governments ruins everything it gets involved it (see housing, healthcare, nat defense, environment, agriculture, mail, the economy, etc) . Its already too involved in higher education. We need more market forces in education, LESS government involvement (i.e. bureaucratic red tap, subsidies, etc).

    February 8, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Ron Hamilton

      The rest of the devolped world is providing an almost free education,why should we be different and support a bad system for 300,000,000 million people.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
      • Ryan

        America has offered world class/top notch education for over 100 years, people fled their countries to come and study here, even today America is one of the top places to come and get an education. Unfortunately, through all the federal subsidization and student loan con, tuitions have increased to abysmal levels and not only that, the value of a college education has decreased substantially. You know how many college educated people I run into working common jobs that didn't even require and college education? The only reason they went is because that's what society told them they had to do it. What happened to the day of working your way through college? By dad bussed tables in the summer and paid his way through college, and his Bachelors degree then was MUCH MUCH more valuable that a bachelors degree today. And just because some other country does it doesn't mean we have to. And with today's technology, college should be dirt cheap. END LOAN GUARANTEES and SUBSIDIES TO PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES and watch the quality of our higher education increase and prices sink! And don't want any more of my money going towards expenses. No you do not have a right to an education, you have a right to get yourself one though, and that is the way it should be. You have a right to your life, you liberty, and the PURSUIT of prosperity. Why does this country insist on getting handouts?!

        February 8, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
      • shane

        Free, with a 50% tax rate. Nothing is ever free. It's always a lie to get you in the door where you're hog tied w/ ball gag.

        February 8, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  85. jcbb

    I can understand how nice it would be for some, but it's a really bad idea. When will people realize that college ISN'T for everyone? I'm not talking on the basis of financial or family background, I'm talking about each child being an individual. Not everyone can benefit and achieve his/her best potential from higher education. And if not everyone can benefit from or is suitable for higher education, then it doesn't make sense to have the government pay for everyone's education. It's exactly like asking the government to pay for everyone's house, not everyone wants to live in a place long term or is suitable to own their own house.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • jcbb

      Also, as a responsible parent, evaluate and understand how many children you can afford until they graduate college, and then pop those kids out. Is that so hard?

      February 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
      • Dad of 3

        You should have quit while you were making sense. Please no social engineering Mr. Orwell.

        February 8, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • basketcase

      Just because the government provides it doesn't mean you have to go. The "not everyone benefits" argument is just a straw man. If you don't feel you'll benefit, you don't have to go whether the government will pay or not.

      February 8, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  86. Parent3

    Sounds like new college student parent panic. Once you get a couple of bills and survive it works out. Also for parents of all those multiples, they really are cheaper in droves. Not every time and in every case, that's where the savvy comes in. If you are not savvy now you will be very quickly. The learning curve is very rapid. Oh, and the good old USA never subsidized one cent of my home mortagage interest. Nothing wrong in a small footprint.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  87. Zeba

    Percentage of US citizens that are college educated – 23%. Sobering stat.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  88. Hannah

    I think it's a great idea. Think how it would reduce the amount of money for prisons, less people going to prison and employed. The tax base would probably go way up with more people being employed in high paying jobs and everyone would benefit. They do it in Europe. Why not here.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Chiara

      This should be in the entertainment section.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Mark B.

      Hannah, you serious? Have you seen Europe lately?

      February 8, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  89. Jora Gucci

    I agree 100% with those that say college is not for everybody. Seems anything government gives away for free goes to the wrong people and get's abused.

    Like we need more graduates in Africana Studies and Latino Studies – the future is so bright and wide open for those majors. NOT.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Dapacoba

      What a stupid, racist comment

      February 8, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  90. pb11949

    As a parent who is saddled with 42K in student loans and 1 more year to go, I support this idea freely. I would be interested to know the amount of money we spend to support other governments who rountinely turn around a spit in our faces. Why can we not educate the future of this country. By the way how many family and friends of people in the US Congress get their student loans forgiven???

    February 8, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Peaceoverwar25

      Well, we could take some money from our defense program. We spend more money on our military, which has been used to attack other countries as of late) than the next 19 countries combined. I think there is some room to allocate some funds for peace and to aid poverty.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  91. Sumo2

    So let me get this straight, the argument isn't that such a policy isn't blatently Socialist; it's that we already tolerate disgustingly Socialist policies in this country, therefore we shouldn't care about adding another?

    February 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Ron Hamilton

      Yes,we've realized there is a better system.It also causes less crime,poverty and increases the education of a nation.Just look at Norway,Sweden and such the lowest poverty rates in the devolped world,and almost free education.What is wrong with that?

      February 8, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
      • jcbb

        Also try to realize how different the US is from Norway and Sweden.

        February 8, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  92. cleat

    we do – its called k-12....
    Those qho WANT to continue generally can. you pay money to make money...
    there are a ton of stunent aid available too

    February 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  93. Judge Dredd

    Why give blacks a college education? You don't need to be educated to smoke crack or carjack.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • catieduke


      February 8, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • stephan

      So true

      February 8, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • CC

      Don't need to give one to white meth heads either. Waste of time and money.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • walker3

      I'm black, don't smoke crack, never been to jail, received my graduate degree two years ago, gainfully employed and I'm presently looking at doctoral programs. So, screw you retard...

      February 8, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  94. Kurt


    February 8, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • catieduke

      Just because it would be available, wouldn't mean that everyone would take advantage of it. However, being an educated country would not be a bad thing!

      February 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
      • jcbb

        That's exactly why it shouldn't exist, because not everyone can benefit from it!

        February 8, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  95. LV

    So, why is it so expensive now?

    Well, turns out that a university's net revenue depends upon the amount of government money available to the student. And that number varies based upon tuition. So, tuition goes up, and up, and up....

    Oddly, if we cut the maximum amount of aid per student, tuition would not be going up.

    Funny how that works.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • dan

      Absolutely correct. The cost of college will rise at a much greater rate than it is now. And more and more expensive and worthless degrees will be invented, so that everyone will "qualify" for "higher" education. There are enough ridiculous, made-up degrees out there now. The holders of degrees in Art History, Political Science, Black studies, women's studies, and my new favorite–music performance...yes,there's a degree in that, are the ones "occupying" city parks, marching in the streets, and vandalizing cars and buildings because no one will hire them.

      My degree was in Engineering. It was hard, it was real, and it worked well for me. And I simply found the way to pay for it myself.

      Has this "political scientist" or whatever people with his degree are called, crunched the numbers using $300B or $1Trillion, instead of $30B, because that's the way the cost will rise in very few years.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  96. Nolan

    This is logical from a financial view point as well. The people with college educations will make more money, thus more taxes will be paid. This is one idea that the government should seriously look at. The only problem that I see with it is the devaluing of college educations. If everybody could go to college then a degree would not be worth as much. Even if that were the case, I feel that a highly educated society would be worth the cost, whatever it means.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • sancat

      I disagree with what you said about a college degree not being worth as much. A college degree isn't worth what you paid to receive it, it's worth your knowledge. People still have to put in the work, not everyone is as motivated as others. You have people who can afford a college education, but don't make the most of it. If college was on the government, it doesn't mean everyone will go and it certainly doesn't mean that everyone will succeed, not at all.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
      • jcbb

        I'm from Taiwan and I can tell you that the devaluation of college degree has created massive problems because EVERYONE has a college degree. You can easily find those with masters and even doctor degrees working as waitresses and janitors in Taiwan.

        February 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  97. LV

    Ok, deal, but, here's the catch. ALL admissions must be American citizens first in line, not a single question about race, gender, or anything else. No preferences but on qualifications.

    Non US citizens pay $100,000 / year to help pay for that.


    People from overseas have their governments, or their amazingly wealthy parents, pay for college anyway.

    Sound good?

    February 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  98. litle hippo

    being a college student, i would love for this to happen. I do not think that it should though. We already have an issue with national debt as it is. We do not need to keep creating more. I cant keep getting more and more credit cards and loans and not pay them back. the government shouldnt either.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • catieduke

      If the mortgage deduction on taxes were ended, it would free up more than enough money to pay for it. Therefore, it wouldn't add to the country's debt. As a homeowne, AND a student myself, I think this is something that should be seriously considered.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
      • jcbb

        I think we should end mortgage deduction on taxes and free up that money to pay down our debt.

        February 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  99. dofacc

    If we do not educate ourselves and our kids then we as a society will cease to exist. We can not use endless numbers of people picking fruits and vegetables. We need large number of highly educated people creating the future. By eliminating the majority of our human potential by not educating them, we are eliminating our future as a country.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
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