I graduated from college in 1991. It seems like a lifetime ago. I had so much fun at the U of Minnesota-Morris. It is in a small town a few hours away from Minneapolis where I grew up.
I loved college. Honestly, most of memories are about the playing 500 all night or walking home from a party through the cemetary stumbling all the way. The classes and learning are more of a blur.
But I can see how going to college has affected my life every step of the way. It has definitely helped me to be employed, for which I am grateful.
More importantly, the skills I learned in college apply to many areas of my life. The ability to communicate effectively helps me everyday whether I am speaking with a client or writing a letter. I learned to question what I read and what people said. I was encouraged to think in new ways and to realize thay my world view was not the only one.
But not everyone has the opportunity to go to college. It is extremely expensive. Unfortunately, the disparity between the have and have-nots in this country is increased as people do not go to college because of the price.
What can we do about this problem? The government can and should pay for college for all who want to attend.
Higher education is a basic social good. As such, it should be available to all, without cost, who meet admission standards. The federal government, as the guarantor of social rights, should bear primary responsibility for providing free college for all.
This proposal isn't prohibitively costly; the total bill for all students currently enrolled in public institutions is under $27 billion, less than one-third of what George W. Bush is spending on Iraq this year. Closing recently opened corporate tax loopholes would also more than meet the program's cost, even if enrollments doubled as a result of eliminating tuition as a constraint.
Moreover, this program isn't pie in the sky. It has a clear precedent in living memory. The GI Bill paid full tuition and fees, as well as a living-wage stipend, for nearly eight million returning World War II veterans. We've done it before, we can do it again, and this time for everyone.
We need to fight for free college. We need to start the support right here at the grass roots level. I would like to see all public colleges be free. The rich people can still send their kids to the private colleges.