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  • Time for ground-breaking measures to solve issues related to higher education
  • Posted By:
  • Chris J
  • Posted On:
  • 06-Sep-2013
  • State funding is facing a serious deadline and our President’s carrot and stick approach is not doing anything to help in this quarter though it does make a significant impact in making higher education more affordable.

    Middle and low income families are unable to afford to send their children to universities and public colleges predominantly due to the widening inequality during the last 30 years. Our President’s reform plan does nothing to address this issue either.

    During his bus tour to Pennsylvania across New York, Obama promoted his reform plan with an aim to deliver high quality education for students at lower costs. As a part of his plan, he aims at federal monitoring of fees charged by colleges.

    Colleges that charge more will be penalized and cannot benefit from federal aid. More aid will be disbursed to colleges that keep tuition costs down. Another proposal put forth by our President includes a ranking system that will measure aspects such as number of graduating Pell Grant students, salary achievement after graduation, on-time graduation and student debt default.

    As of now, low income graduates benefiting from the “Pay as You Earn” program have to pay back 10 percent of their monthly income. President Obama aims at expanding eligibility of students for this program in this plan.

    He pointed out that student loans are only for the benefit of students and not for the government to make money. There is no doubt that our President has a lot of essential commitment to make his plan work and take higher education to a different level by making it more affordable.  What we have to see is whether our educational institutions are open to transparency in terms of results and costs.

    It is also imperative for states to do their bit towards helping students afford higher education at the public universities and colleges. In the past 30 years, there has been a whopping 257 percent increase in the cost of college for students opting for four-year public colleges.

    The top income bracket is not affected by this increase as their income has increased by 275 percent too in the same duration. Income rise however is only 20 percent in the past 30 years for the bottom fifth segment of the income ladder according to a Congressional Budget Office study.

    Last month, a flat tax loan plan was adopted by the legislature in Oregon for the benefit of in-state public university graduates. After graduation, students who attend college for free pay back the tuition amount spread over a period of 25 years and the sum works out to just 3 percent of their annual earnings.

    1.5 percent of their annual income will be paid by community college graduates under the same program. A pro-rated amount has to be paid by students attending school for a lesser amount of time.  The fact that there is no upfront tuition fee to be paid ensures that students need not incur any debt associated with traditional student loans.

    This is an approach hitherto not tried in our country. If it works well, it could make a lot of difference and will make it easier for our President to attain his 2020 goal.


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