The scandal of college affordability

Public officials have taken the idea of affordable college from something everyone should have to a luxury item only for the super-rich and super lucky.  Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and chuck Schumer have spent months asking Joe Biden to use his authority to eliminate or reduce crushing student debt. Biden promised to do so.  But in the end he has refused, despite new Roosevelt Institute research showing that educational debt relief “would provide more benefits to those with fewer economic resources and could play a critical role in addressing the racial wealth gap and building the Black middle class”.

As student debt crushes the elderly and people of color, into this vacuum comes a rescue … for a lucky few. Public officials have taken the idea of affordable college from something the world’s wealthiest nation should be able to provide to everyone, and converted it into an expensive luxury item only for the super-rich and those lucky enough to win the lottery.


At first glance, the state initiatives could seem like pragmatism. With the federal government gridlocked and states unwilling to raise revenues to adequately fund universal access to affordable higher education, at least we can offer post-secondary education to a handful of the non-rich. And, hey, if it entices more people to get vaccinated, that’s an added bonus.

But at another level, this feels like something out of a dystopian sci-fi satire.

As other countries suffer mass casualties because vaccines are simply not available or affordable, America apparently has the opposite problem: we’re swimming in the much-coveted medical prophylactic against Covid, and yet we apparently must gamify the vaccine process in order to persuade our people to get free shots to protect themselves from the deadly virus.

Even worse, the big shiny enticing prize young people can win is not some sports car, speedboat, or even a visit to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. It is more affordable college – as if access to an education is not a basic right, but must be considered some overpriced, totally-out-of-reach, only-for-the-elite indulgence like a Caribbean vacation, or some other gaudy item on The Price Is Right.  (David Sirota, 17 June 2021)

My comment: When I was young the ( U.K.) government made it a priority to encourage further education . Except for accommodation my three years at university were paid for by the taxpayer.  So was subsequent business management education.  I don’t know whether the taxpayer got his moneys-worth in my case, but I sure did appreciate it .- and worked hard to justify it, too.  This current attitude to education is appalling!

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