Majority in US Back Free College Tuition and Student Debt Cancellation, New Poll Finds

Yves here. As we’ve said for many years, positions widely depicted by the press as left-wing, such as strengthening Social Security and Medicare, cutting military spending, making taxes more progressive, have consistently polled with solid majorities or at worst, pluralities. And the poll that found broad support for cancelling student debt and free college tuition was a solid sample size. But I’m not holding my breath about the MSM giving these results the play they deserve.

By Judy Conley, staff writer at Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams

A majority of voters support the bold proposals for free college tuition and the wiping out of student debt put forward by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 Democratic primary, according to a new Hill-HarrisX poll out Friday.

The survey found that out of more than 1,000 respondents, 58 percent of people said they support government-funded public college tuition and the cancellation of student debt for the more than 44 million Americans who currently hold it.

“We will make public colleges and universities and HBCUs debt-free. And what we will always also do, because this is an incredible burden on millions and millions of young people who did nothing wrong except try to get the education they need, we are going to cancel all student debt in this country.” —Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)The student debt crisis has left young Americans as a group owing more than 1.5 trillion for their college and graduate educations, and is largely blamed for keeping millennials from being able to buy homes and start families. 

At the Democratic debate on Thursday night, Sanders restated his support for wiping out student debt and allowing all Americans to attend two- and four-year state colleges tuition-free.

“What we will also do is not only have universal pre-K, we will make public colleges and universities and HBCUs debt-free,” the Vermont independent senator said. “And what we will always also do, because this is an incredible burden on millions and millions of young people who did nothing wrong except try to get the education they need, we are going to cancel all student debt in this country.”

According to the Hill-HarrisX poll, 72 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of independent voters support free college tuition and student debt cancellation, while 40 percent of Republicans back the plans.

While both Sanders and Warren have proposed offering free public college to all Americans, Warren’s debt cancellation program would only be offered to families who earn under $250,000 per year—the bottom 95 percent of earners. Sanders has proposed wiping out student debt for all those who carry it.

Sanders would fund his plan by imposing a speculation tax on stock trades, raising an estimated $2.4 trillion over 10 years, while Warren’s Ultra-Millionaires Tax would fund her proposal.

At the Democratic debate, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) suggested progressive candidates are “extreme” and have made “promises [they] can’t keep,” while South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg said in an earlier debate only that he supports “reducing” student debt and addressing college “affordability.”

On MSNBC Thursday, Sanders campaign co-chair Nina Turner said that while poll numbers have fluctuated slightly for the top candidates in recent weeks, surveys have consistently shown that Americans support free college tuition and student debt forgiveness.

“Polls are snapshots in time,” Turner told Katy Tur, adding that Sanders “understands the cries, the fears, the needs, and the dreams of the American people in this country. Hello Green New Deal, hello college for all, canceling student debt, standing up for the working people of this country.”

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  1. Another Scott

    I’m more on the fence about free tuition than many people here, primarily because I don’t see attention paid to controlling the costs of higher education, just who will pay for it. Proposal should also include plans to reduce the compensation of executives, administrative bloat, excessive construction, and even athletic programs.

    Also, why isn’t limiting the tax deductibility of donations to schools on the table as part of the way to pay for college? When a couple donates $50 million to Harvard and their son gets in two years later, the donation isn’t taxed. If they’re paying the 37% tax, that’s $18.5 million, which would cover the in-state cost for more than 600 students at UMass Amherst.

    1. Diane Reynolds

      Like all these thoughts! I think state schools should charge a very low tuition (under $600 a semester), just because what is completely free is not valued in this country. And all the “fees” have to be abolished. I got a “tuition free” ride at a grad school, but they slammed with several hundred dollars a semester in fees–and were affronted I wasn’t abjectly grateful enough not to complain about that.

      1. Carla

        My nephew had excellent high school grades and test scores so he got a tuition-free ride at UMass Amherst about 10 years ago. Fantastic, right? Well, room and board, plus fees, came to $20,000 a year.

        The universities are just “innovative” financial institutions. They basically print money by throwing students into debt peonage. Organized crime at a very high level.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          one need only to look at the explosion of useless middle management (called by the much more cultured ‘administration’ here, however) to understand this is a poorly business whose original product was forgotten long ago though they claim to still offer it, and better than it’s ever been!

  2. John Beech

    If you polled kids regarding a preference for eating cake vs. spinach, would you’d get similar results?

    1. nippersmom

      What’s the matter, John? Afraid providing benefits to the citizenry will cut into the funds available for corporate welfare? Or do you just think instituting policies that help the plebeians will give us ideas above our stations?

    2. The Rev Kev

      John, I am afraid that you are operating under a severe misapprehension. When a nation invests in educating its young, it is investing in its future. That is what the US did after WW2 (which rob below in comments mentioned) with the GI Bill and that period was one long sustained boom. That is what China is doing and it has reaped the benefits – and how. If the US still had the same education system of the post-WW2 period, it would still be pumping out a qualified, highly-trained workforce instead of turning the whole thing into a Wall Street racket which you appear to be defending. Trump may be under the illusion of bringing back the factories to America but he will need to invest in education to provide the workforce for those factories first.

      1. number6

        Sending people to be indoctrinated in a University is not providing education. We should encourage people to have skill set to accomplish the job they want to do, whether computer programmer or whatever,

        Spending ridiculous sums to allow people to learn about meaningless information is ludicrous.

        If you forgive the student loans, what do you do for the people that paid for their schooling? While we are at it, lets just forgive all credit card loans as well

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I think you need to reframe the preference choices offered in your poser. A choice between eating cake vs eating cake and assuming a lifelong debt to pay for the cake, or perhaps eating spinach vs eating spinach and assuming a lifelong debt to pay for the spinach would better represent the kind of choices the poll presents.

      Your point seems in part to be that people prefer a pleasant choice to an unpleasant choice. And you seem to believe there is some implicit health benefit to spinach versus cake — you watched too many Popeye cartoons! Allowing spinach provides benefits over cake that justify pressing kids to eat it [which may be questionable after some of the recent E. Coli issues with spinach] — what exactly are the benefits you perceive for our present Neoliberal Market based educational system, particularly higher education, and the debt peonage this system is creating to foster the bondage of our youth?

  3. Dan

    I have a hard time with outright cancellation, because once again, being prudent – choosing community college first couple of years, choosing state college vs private, paying back your student loan – gets effectively penalized.

    I don’t see the difference in this than the moral hazard presented by companies and individuals who insist on bailouts ‘to help the economy recover’

    Warren’s proposal sits better with me. And as mentioned in prior comment, with nothing to control costs, this is no better than Obamacare where now educational institutions are given a bigger pot to dip into.

    1. diptherio

      Hmmm…a little like arguing that freeing all the slaves now would be effectively penalizing those former slaves who worked hard and saved enough money to buy their own freedom…dubious.

      1. Dan

        suspect of what?

        except the slaves in your analogy would be walking away with something, supposedly of great value to their own personal future and net worth.

        a slave analogy hardly fits.

      2. Joey

        BS…. It may be more like rejecting the prodigal son, but some of us have skimped and saved whilst others over-reached.

        Imagine if the 08 mcmansionaires ended up, via debt forgiveness, to own more property. Wouldn’t that just be bailing out fools at the bottom instead of the top. Still a wealth theft. And I’d still be renting…

        1. Joey

          Should be eligible for bankruptcy, and I’d even entertain a grandfather-clause sloping partial forgiveness to smooth the cliff’s edge.

    2. randomworker

      Outright cancellation benefits the already well situated the most. The 4 yr college degree wage premium is significant: $30k per year.

      There are people who have not benefitted, and they are mostly people who didn’t finish, or who got bogus sham degrees. We should take care of these people, not MIT grads.

      About half the people don’t go to college. If we are giving out free tickets to $30k a year wage premiums, is this fair to them? We take their tax dollars and give it to (mostly) people who are already going to benefit the most.

      1. jrs

        I don’t see why those who didn’t go to college shouldn’t also have some money sent their way, just to make it fair, cut them a check if it’s the best way to do it, so that they get equal benefit.

        It’s really hard to argue this wouldn’t be a good and fair compromise, without descending into a meritocracy argument, about how those who went to college are somehow better than those that didn’t.

  4. Jack Hayes

    Two generations ago, a high school diploma was generally sufficient for a motivated person to earn a decent living, and a free public education through 12th grade was universally available. However, education beyond high school has become more important (in general) to a person’s earning power in the past 50 years. Despite being generally a fiscal conservative, I could support a system that offers free tuition for “13th – 14th grade” training in academics or in vocational skills. Those who choose the former route could then apply their credits towards obtaining a college degree; those who chose the latter could join the workforce with enough marketable skills to earn a decent living.

    1. shinola

      “I could support a system that offers free tuition for “13th – 14th grade” training in academics or in vocational skills.”

      This is a good idea. I think it wouldn’t too hard to get solid public support behind it and it would be, at least, a step in the right direction.

    2. rob

      I think that offering 2-4 more years of grade levels makes a lot of sense. after all, education can go on for decades of “more to learn” other degrees to obtain… and all that… there would still be room for schools offering programs for further development and specialization offered to people who want to pay for it…

      Like a real single payer program for everyone that includes everything anyone may need; with a platinum plan for those who choose to buy it for those who can afford it.. for anything else they want….

    3. rd

      I agree with the focus on better primary and high school education. One of the biggest issues out there is the huge discrepancy between rich and poor school districts. Closing that gap should be where much of the money goes.

      There has been a focus on greatly increasing the number of people going to college and university under the assumption that they would make much more money based on historical studies. But I am baffled why people would think that students in the 25%-50% quartile of high school graduates would get the same work benefits as the top 25%. Brown v. Board of Education and Title IX opened up universities to the bright minority and female students which greatly increased the number of high performing people with higher education in the work force. However, even those people still see wage gaps compared to white males in similar jobs. Why would the wage gap not be even larger for people who are not from the same level of academic attainment – that is probably some of what we are seeing today with people who have taken out large loans but not gotten the pay.

      Higher education costs have risen at twice the rate of inflation, probably due to the tsunami of student loans available, similar to home prices and subprime mortgage availability 15 years ago. I think the federal guarantee and inability to discharge in bankruptcy for student loans should be set to a much lower level, say the first $50k. After that, the loans would not be Federally guaranteed and could be discharged in bankruptcy. That would force much more careful underwriting of loans and reduce the number of people getting them. If universities want those students, then they need to lower prices, either by lowering the sticker price or increasing grants.

      I don’t believe in “free university for all”. Instead, it should be affordable (e.g. Canada) and academically qualified low income students should get a lot of grants.

    4. chuck roast

      Jack, it’s a different world than two generations ago. My old man drove a truck for 40 years on a union wage and raised a family of three kids. When my buds’ and I got out of the military the only question was what union the old man, the brother, the uncle or the cousin had a line on for you. Steam fitters? Metal trades? Plumbers? My old man had me set up for the electricians union. Fifteen bucks a hour to start as an apprentice. That was good money then. It all seems like another planet now.

      Vocational training? Marketable skills? Good chance these days of developing a marketable skill repairing type-writers. It’s brutal out there man. Wise-up. We need to help all young people without bogus conditions or Elizabeth Warren’s Calvinist hoops for the preferential and the elect.

      1. kiwi

        There is plenty of need for plumbers and electricians. All of our houses and buildings need these workers.

        It is unfortunate that bullshit jobs that supposedly require a degree have eclipsed real work, both in terms of wages and desirability.

        1. John Wright

          I’m not sure that these “bullshit jobs” have eclipsed real work in terms of wages and desirability.

          There has been stagnation of wages for many in the USA and a new college degree worker may find their wages close to the minimum wage, albeit in an air conditioned workplace with convenient parking with some benefits thrown in.

          I believe the assertion that the college degree is highly valued in the workplace is being sold in the political sphere as a panacea to wage stagnation as inequality gets worse.

          A prior time when college degrees were used as a qualifying filter, not because an educated worker was required, is illustrated by my late father’s experience in the Great Depression.

          My father related “you needed a college degree to pump gas for Standard Oil” as he looked for employment in the Great Depression.

          He also commented that college tended to keep students out of the job market during the 4 years of college helping those currently employed to keep their jobs.

          I worked for many years for an international corporation, and it appeared that this corporation had determined that college technical degree holders are an international commodity and non-USA degree holders could be hired via H1-B’s in the USA or moving operations overseas.

          World wide tendencies toward greater inequality and the labor arbitrage that developed countries’ corporations engage in is driving down wages for all but the elite.

          I don’t see “a free college degree for everyone” helping much.

          1. kiwi

            Hmmmm, your father’s experience is rather interesting, given at the time that college degrees weren’t routine by any means.

            My granddad, who had my mom during the depression, had a high school education. He got a job with a bell company and eventually became head of human resources, all without a degree and retired in the ’70’s as a one percent-er. I can’t think of any of my other relatives around his age that got a college degree, but most did okay and managed to own homes. My father’s father worked as a mailman on the rail road – no degree, was incapacitated, and managed to buy a house (incapacitation was not work related, and he couldn’t work after that). Now, their children mostly got college degrees.

            1. John Wright

              My late father graduated with a college degree (business) from Notre Dame in the early 1930’s at the depth of the Great Depression.

              At 25% unemployment rate, he found his degree did not matter much and eventually landed a job as a butcher for the Safeway grocery chain.

              His on-the-job training at his father’s small grocery market helped convince Safeway to hire him.

              The build up to the war and eventual entry of the USA into the war opened up many opportunities for many in the USA, including my dad.

              To this day I don’t understand how anyone can confidently state “the government doesn’t create jobs”.

              My family’s experience indicates otherwise.

              1. eg

                Not only does the government create jobs, it also creates unemployment when it fails to run deficits sufficient to offset the demand destruction of the private sector’s propensity to save in a country running a trade deficit.

    5. Stratos

      Left unmentioned in this discussion are people who incur debt to attend vocational schools. The costs of attending vocational schools has skyrocketed over the past decades to the point that some qualified applicants simply can’t afford to attend. These costs are producing repercussions not only for the majority who have no interest in college, but also for potential employers.

      A barber recently told me about how he has to work seven days a week in his busy shop. He currently rents out six chairs. He said he would love to rent out more chairs, but there is a shortage of state licensed barbers. When I asked him where the chokepoints were, he replied that the major block was the high cost of attending barber school. He felt many potential barbers were not able to afford the high costs of this specific vocational education.

      Out of control post-secondary costs and the inefficiencies of loan based education funding affect more than just people who seek college and university educations. The majority who simply want to pursue a viable trade are also shut out of the current system.

    6. adri

      I agree, in Europe you can work after high school, if you want you can study further, but not necessary, especially you don’t need another degree, undergraduates, graduate,,, master, phd

      in Germany company will pick you up during school and you can do practicum while studying and also start earning money , they have less people with higher education , but decent economy

      while here everyone needs a two degree, if you want to work for a government you need a master degree to do amin work
      no wonder so many end up with high college debt , beside the tuition is mostly free in European countries, they still end up with debt / cost of living is high in Europe, but they have to pay it, not the government, on the other hand one degree is usually enough

  5. Eclair

    And, should we ask if you would prefer free or minimal tuition at at publicly-funded university or community college … or an all expense-paid cruise to the Bahamas? Please don’t insult the intelligence of NC commenters with a ‘cake vs. spinach’ analogy. Or the intelligence of the citizenry.

    Our current pathway, of presenting our young people with the choice of university degree with a mountain of debt …. or a high school education followed by a minimum wage job and the prospect of any early death from opioids, alcohol and garden-variety despair, leads only to increasing inequality with its accompaniment of strongmen dictators and social unrest.

    1. inode_buddha

      Per your last para, the choices being offered are, despair and more despair. The young know this, and the elders have learnt it the hard way. Remember when all the political class was thinking of the children back in the 1980’s?

      1. Eclair

        Well, yes, inode_buddha. I am thinking of a young friend, MA in philosophy with university teaching experience, now driving for Uber, along with multiple other low wage jobs. Certainly, despair and more despair.

    2. Eclair

      Whoops, I meant to add this as a ‘reply’ to John Beech’s comment at 7:54 am. Back to the kitchen for more caffeine!

  6. Freshstart

    Free college would be awfully “unfair” to all the graduates of the past 100 years that paid for their college degrees…. is what a contrarian, parentally-funded, nattering nabob would say.

    1. rob

      yeah, like all the WWII vets who received free college tuition after the war.. that whole program; the G I bill, accounted for a good sized percentage of the growth of the current academic industrial complex… @ 49% of college admissions in 1947 were vets using GI bill benefits…

      We won’t bring up anything like that….

      1. Albert Dale Larew

        I think free college tuition should be the goal but your comment, Rob, has nothing to do with the issue. My father benefited from the GI bill (MS Engineering) but he also served in the Navy. Your statement is a false equivalent to our topic of free college tuition for all.

      2. Dan

        Perfect thing to bring up. Someone who served for the benefit of the country was
        rewarded with a helping hand, provided by citizens of that country, to better and benefit themselves.

        How does that fit with the current student debt jubilee proposals? Citizens, who derived no
        benefit from said debtors, are asked to pay for the benefits that are primarily accrued to an

        Something needs to be done. Debt for vocational schools, who thrived only because deep
        cuts to high-school and public vocational schools, left people no option, should be a focus.
        Addressing this gap in vocational training should be a focus. Bankruptcy is an option that
        should be explored. Costs are something that definitely need to be addressed, or it becomes
        another can-kicking exercise.

        If you are going to argue, forgiving student debt has economic upside for everyone, then you
        must be open to any alternative proposal that has economic upside that may be more equitable
        as well as provide greater economic upside for the same costs.

        1. anon y'mouse

          you actually think citizens reap no benefit from having fellow citizens educated up to the level to be able to engage fully, including economically, in society?

          why bother to teach people to read, then? that is only for the individual. why give schooling at all.

          free college is an acknowledgement that the minimum standard to exist, and be engaged in the activities of a citizen, has expanded beyond the high school level due to technological and other progression (NOT “progress”).

          you really think that the rest of society benefits when the only jobs people can get keep them continually in poverty and reliant upon various forms of public assistance?

          you either pay it in one way or another. there is no “away” you can put these people to. and if more of them can actually earn enough to survive, you might be able to then get taxes out of them instead of providing them assistance. and yet you say there is no “benefit” to the rest of the people to have educated fellow citizens.

          how about educated enough to engage in the political process? everyone seems to decry how “stupid” voters are. maybe this is the cause.

        2. rob

          Personally, I think this student debt forgiveness… is separate from free tuition in the future… and really need to be addressed by the thing that really needs to be done which will benefit the entire citizenry… monetary reform.
          In “the NEED act” hr 2990 112th congress… the ending of the free lunch banks get by creating our money should be how resources are redirected to things like free tuition and school funding from pre school all the way through college; bringing parity to wealthy and rural areas alike. It is also the way to pay for the single payer healthcare system we all need…
          There are bigger fish to fry, than just our kids getting free college… it is ending the debt created by our corrupt monetary system, and turning that power into a force of good , rather than what it is now…. the source of our poverty.

      3. Telee

        As with many of the New Deal programs, the GI bill benefited whites but few blacks. These were largely affirmative action plans for whites only. The depth of racism in the US should not be underestimated or ignored.

    2. rd

      Tuition has risen at twice the rate of inflation over the past 40 years. The costs for kids to attend university today are not comparable to their parents in many states.

    3. Stratos

      Up until the first Reagan administration, most state public universities were free or so low cost that it was possible to self-fund a college education with a summer job. Something many people did from the 1950s to the 1970s.

      It is disingenuous to suggest current college degree seekers are facing similar conditions to those faced by past generations. There are very few summer jobs that pay $40k plus at this point in time.

  7. rob

    While I am in favor of free college tuition, and in cancelling debt for student loans… I do think there needs to be A LOT of discussion into the worlds these things exist in.
    We have colleges who wear many hats…. education being only one… what about their endowments and their investment activity…. who is going to change that culture? what about the “sports” BS that the big colleges around me spend millions of dollars on; that pervert the real purpose of education. I would hope we would no longer justify the spending and development of the “college sports industrial complex”, that usurps real control over many institutions…and wastes millions of dollars per year… I’m sure billions in the aggregate.
    The top tier of college executives seem to be the “political appointees” of national stature who get cushy jobs “in academia”, while on intervals between private sector employment or gov’t patronage…..
    The council on foreign relations types who are given these posts as some form of “perk” while waiting in the wings of the political class… revolving door.
    Above all, colleges have to do a better job of education, and less propagation of propagandistic data points used to skewer the public as a whole.

    Colleges could give free medical schooling to students who then could work in the single payer healthcare system that would also be a part of a sane economy. The absolute dollar amounts of “people who make too much money”( meaning administration types who do little but count beans. Not people who actually are important like doctors,nurses,janitors,etc.), won’t be justified by claims of needing to pay everyone more to pay their respective debt…. the whole system SHOULD cost less.. over all.

    After all, obamney care is a perfect example of why our leadership is “pushing” an idea that sounds good on the face of it…. they have plans for exploitation.

    My guess is that even the people with a stake in the status quo, have contingency plans in case the winds change direction, to capitalize on whatever the situation might change to..and friends to help them through the doors … again..
    The ruling class only supports things they can exploit for financial gain…
    Take any good idea…. bastardize it… then screw the people and continue to tell the people “it is for their own good”…
    And all the people with skin in the game now surely will have their lawyers fighting for their “right” to be made “whole” should anything change…. .my guess.

  8. Alexis S

    I belong to a wonderful travelers’ organization called Servas, and I get to meet people from all over the world.

    A few years back, I had some young Danes visiting. The boyfriend was 28 or so and a chef, his younger girlfriend, still in college. He said, “college is free here, and they really want you to succeed, and not have to devote a lot of time worrying about surviving, so in addition to free tuition, you get 1000 euros a month as a stipend. If I decide I want to change careers, I can go back to school, and that will be free, too. But I won’t get the 1000 euro stipend, after the first degree.”
    He also said, “sure, we pay high taxes– but education is free, healthcare is free– and people are generally satisfied.”

    The elephant in the room, to me, is always the military. We can’t afford 800 bases overseas and also have roads, schools, & healthcare.

    The EU proposed tax (which would apply wherever the securities are sold) is around .02%, I believe. .01% for derivatives. Gotta tax them too… Although per Bloomberg, “Intraday transactions would also fall outside the scope of the tax”, which seems to be a big mistake, since it’s the flash trading which is the most problematical.
    And whatever happens, we need to make these taxes internationally consistent, so there’s no where to hide. See Tax Justice Network (which I’m sure I learned about here, thank you NC.)

    1. rd

      US military is expensive but its only about 3.2% of GDP.

      The excess healthcare cost in the US compared to other developed countries is about 8% or more of GDP.

      The excess spending in healthcare in the US would pay for the entire US military bdget and much of the infrastructure backlog.

  9. fdr-fan

    College tuition is a lot like medical costs. Both are usually paid by government or other third parties. Government and third parties hide the true cost from the consumer, so the colleges and hospitals crank up the nominal cost. The few people who pay directly are stuck with huge bills because they don’t have the bully power to negotiate.

    Forgiving the loans is a lot like medical bankruptcies, except that the ethics are backwards. College is voluntary, and huge medical bills are not. If we’re going to forgive only one of them, we should be forgiving the medical.

    Forgiving both would probably be a good move, breaking the bullies and ultimately restoring more visible prices.

    1. kiwi

      Exactly. Why should college debt be preferred over any other type of debt? What about the people who are still buried in debt from the depression? I’m still digging out (lived on credit while I was intermittently employed). What about the people who lost their houses during the depression? What about all of the people who managed to pay off their college debt?

      I get that education is a very important investment for the country and the future. But the solutions as proposed seem very inequitable.

      1. eg

        You have to stop thinking in this zero sum way — eliminating the indentureship industry benefits the whole nation.

  10. Fraibert

    iMO, public funding of 4 year degree programs only makes sense if the admissions standards are heavily raised. Otherwise, I suspect we will end up paying for 12th – 16th grade and not for true higher education, as schools of all types scramble to fill seats with warm bodies. As it is, I hear too many anecdotes about people with Bachelor’s degrees that can barely write coherently.

    Put differently, I don’t find it incidental that countries that have government paid higher education tend to have strenuous admissions examinations.

    However, more open funding of community college technical training does make sense to me.

    1. kiwi

      Yes, admissions can be very selective. A friend of mine from China talked about how difficult it is to get into Chinese colleges. And if I recall correctly, aren’t Japan students continuously under extreme pressure to get into upper education – so much pressure that they get depressed?

      (and shouldn’t it be “people with Bachelor’s degrees who can barely write coherently? ;) )

    2. jrs

      I think they only make sense if admission standards are NOT raised. F no, my tax dollars are not paying for some goddamn meritocracy (which it is clear the rich just buy their way into anyway as they buy their way into Berkley and UCLA). But I’m a big fan of the community colleges, of truly accessible education for all.

  11. rjs

    since for the most part the purpose of college education is to turn out cogs for the corporate machine, education should be funded by those corporations that benefit from having an educated workforce…

  12. lyman alpha blob

    I propose free college for almost everyone, with those degrees financed by the marketing majors and MBAs who would have to pay $100,000,000 each for theirs.

  13. Anonymous

    As a millennial who expects to fully pay off <50k of state university student loan debt through personal saving and prudent planning, i 100% support universal student loan forgiveness for everyone else. Don’t use me as a hypothetical victim in this forgiveness scenario. I’m not so selfish and narrow minded as to not see the obvious myriad common benefits here.

  14. ewmayer

    Without *serious* measures at cost-contaiment and outright reduction of the massive adminispheric bloat which pervades the modern US neoliberal Uni, these kinds of proposals represent a truly colossal giveaway to the Educational-Industrial complex. Of course the latter vested interest is going to be perfectly happy to see the government cover the outstanding $trillions of student-loan debt, freeing its current holders to pursue a fresh round of further degree-chasing and “retraining”, while at the same time fighting any proposed cost-reduction measures tooth and nail, via their ranks of bought and paid for lawmakers. Just like Big Med only got behind the ACA after Obama promised to not use the purchasing power of the government to try to rein in prices. We’ll take the carrot, but only after you’ve disposed of the stick.

    This is akin to M4A – truly unprecedented cost reductions have to be front and center, otherwise the whole thing is merely a giant cost-shifting exercise which does nothing – and very well may further exacerbate – the underlying true issue, which is the outrageous unaffordability of modern higher ed.

    A related issue which I’ve seen precious little discussion of by the giveaway-proposers is, has our society really benefited from the whole host of jobs which former needed little or no college education – but simply required some then-standard on-the-job training by the employer – now carrying a phony “college degree requirement”? How are the various proposals intending to keep employers from using a free-college program as just another excuse to ditch investment in OTJ training?

    Those who invoke the GI Bill as an alleged “precedent” are being either ignorant or disingenuous – that was tied to actual preceding *service*, and the college landscape back then had little resemblance to the neoliberal cancerous cost-bloated useless-degree-littered one of today.

    I again invoke a different analogy, that of government embrace of the “homeownership society” – not the immediate post-WW2 one, but rather the more-recent neoliberal version: How’s that worked out on the housing-affordability front?

  15. Oh

    I’d like to say that college tuition should be free but as to studeent debt cancellation, who wouldn’t want a free ride? The loan companies should be made to eat the debt and not be paid by the government. The loan companies have already reaped a lot of gain so far.

  16. tegnost

    Considering that all one needs to do to get a student loan is fog a mirror, maybe someone could enlighten me as to why this is not just more sub prime lending. I appreciate the points made above regarding somehow reducing administrative bloat, sports programs and the like. I wonder if it’s even possible to get through the firewalls everywhere protecting the status quo.

  17. Alice X

    Were the US to have universal general funding for primary education, rather than the present barbaric funding from local property assessment, a greater understanding of education would ensue. The Supreme Court could find for this in a single ruling. I’m dreaming.

  18. Joe Well

    I’m curious what the commentariat has to say about Wolf Street’s takedown of student debt cancellation which is like a digest of all the arguments against it. The problem is that Wolf doesn’t seriously consider whether current student debt levels are sustainable or offer an alternative way of dealing with them, nor does he consider the combination of debt cancellation with free higher ed going forward–he seems to say that future students will rack up enormous debt and then have it forgiven. He also makes classic clueless Boomer mistakes like comparing a monthly debt payment to the rent on a one-bedroom apartment, when the typical 20-something or even 30-something is lucky to get their own bedroom in a 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom apartment.

  19. George Phillies

    So you are the Federal bureaucrat in charge of paying the state universities. How much money are you giving them for a student? Flat rate? Their tuition, which is now under no pressure at all not to bloat? How will the amount be decided? Divination? Bribery?

  20. vp

    I think that college ought to be cheap, not free. A system where students end up with moderate debt (10 or 15k) is the best outcome IMO. If people were allowed to spend societal resources on useless degrees it would introduce a moral hazard.

    Subsidizing universities is very expensive for society, but it is also an investment in the future. But that stop being the case if people if people to choose studies with little work prospect. So it’s good if students have a little skin in the game. Emphasis on little.

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