Bernie Sanders wants to give Americans free college education. This sounds good to any parent who has three or four college age children.
Such an idea would have to have huge boundaries. Schools such as Harvard, Baylor, Notre Dame or even Universities like Southern California, Indiana University or the University of Miami are not going to teach, house and feed students for free.
We do have major issues when it comes to higher education in America. The one major issue is that is has a neck-breaking price tag.
We can solve America's higher education dilemma.
Make the first year of community college or technical school free. Do I sound like Bernie Sanders now? Please note that I said community college. In most cases federal grants that cover costs for poorer American kids will cover the cost of the first year of a community college. Poorer kids who qualify for federal grants will receive enough money to cover the costs of the second year and therefore even a nice chunk of money for the third and fourth year of their college endeavor. Many kids who have more access to money often skip community college because they want to get away from home as quickly as possible for the college dormitory. It's a decision that families have to make.
Next, reduce the college education Bachelor's degree from 120 hours to 105 hours of study. This would be essentially eliminating one semester. A student attending two years of community college would therefore need 45 hours of study beyond the community or two-year college. The financial savings could be in the multi thousands. I realize this sounds barbaric to many. How dare I to suggest less education? "We need more education to compete with China and Japan" someone is saying. We need good education to compete with Japan and China. We do not need additional time and massive more debt. Everybody in college has taken three or four classes that were not crucial studies. Plus, people can always enlist into a Master's degree program or go back and take more classes.
Next, give college students the lowest interest rates possible. People who borrow money should pay it back but young adults shouldn't have to pay high rates of interest on obtaining a college education. I like the idea of eliminating 10 percent of a student's debt when the money is paid back in 10 years. This would be a great incentive to work a little harder to pay back the government's money instead of dragging it out forever.
Finally, four years of college is a waste of time and money for many. There are so many trades and vocations that can be learned in one or two years of trade or vocational school. Why blow $80,000 at a college to get a liberal arts degree to become a truck driver or a factory worker at Toyota? Why not spend a year or two learning the trade that you really want to do to make a living?
We can get ahead in America, if we will just use our heads.
Glenn Mollette is an syndicated columnist and author of 11 books and read in all 50 states. This column does not necessarily reflect the view of this paper.