Should the Federal Government Pay Tuition for Higher Education to All for All?

This Story was originally published in October of 2017 and it discusses a subject matter of continued relevance. For, in an increasingly more complex society and government how do we maintain a democracy if each of our residents and citizens are not able to understand our world.

Admission to American colleges and graduate schools is duly regulated by several nongovernmental organizations, notably, entities such as The College Board, the Educational Testing Service and the American Bar Association. And, our secondary and elementary schools are similarly reviewed and ranked as to merit, both within political subdivisions and across the nation, by educators, journalists and governing officials.

Would an assumption of tuition payments for all American college and graduate programs by the Federal government undermine current private governance by those currently governing and affiliated with America’s private schools of higher education? Would it undermine the aura and efficacy of local history and culture within our publicly owned and governed colleges and universities?

Perhaps, the objectivity of the nongovernmental organizations responsible for admissions testing and school ranking in American higher education already provides and requires obligatory accuracy and fairness as to merit and quality across the nation in a way that state, local and private control of funding currently may not affect. Private and state decision-making in higher education must currently yield to duly enacted legislation and promulgated regulation, and a replacement of the monetary source for tuition, from the student, parent and or school to the Federal government, could not transcend present governmental procedures. Our schools would, in every respect, remain fully self-governing and retain due and fair competition.

The question then is whether Federal tuition runs only to the public good and public interest, and if the American economy can afford to pay the tuition of all college and university students? There seems to currently be neither an economic necessity nor an economic value in requiring students and parents, as the recipients of the goods and services of American colleges and universities, to make the tuition payments, when the ultimate beneficiary of educated Americans is America. Educated Americans determine America’s reputation and goodwill and the relative efficacy and value of its democratic government. In doing so, the American public receives goods and services provided by those who do not earn the true value of the service they provide over the course of their careers.

Salaries of ordinary citizens and residents barely pay living expenses, no less do these salaries provide for college tuition. And, it is hoped that American families contain more than one child. College graduates and licensed professionals earn less than professional athletes and corporate executives. Our governing officials, doctors and lawyers provide more to keep America sane and rational than do CEOs, pitchers and quarterbacks. How can CEOs and athletes work day-to-day without professionals and government officials overhead. And, non-managerial employees and traditional small business men and women, who would receive college tuition for their children, would still benefit from American capitalism. Students and graduates of the long existing 2-year colleges, who receive learning in the technical arts and vocations, would certainly provide more to the public good as interns during school years in subjects related to their studies than as employees of those within their community who offer the highest pay in part-time employment regardless of the task.

A parent’s future payment of tuition to American colleges and universities is a for-profit incentive in the American and international marketplace. Currently, parents look to a child’s academic achievement, and the competitiveness of admission to America’s colleges and graduate schools, as an incentive for business success. Federal tuition would lessen stresses unrelated to achievement, regardless of parental income. And, the once thought long entrenched competitive advantage of students attending private elementary and secondary schools, is, now, rarely a concern, for advances in teaching, curriculum and college recruiting have provided economies of scale within local governing political subdivisions, and create a just capitalism in education.

If America’s professionals and college graduates are deemed, as our governing principles intend, to grow and raise children who make the most of our academic institutions, how do these professionals provide for their children’s tuition, even in two professional households, and even if with only one child? How does such a family pay for its children’s college and graduate school attendance, even if they are, themselves, among the American socio-economic elite? And, are not these very children of American professionals and college graduates socially obligated, themselves, by our social contract as citizens and residents, to not squander what has been provided to them by their parents and secondary school educators?

The centuries-old legal principle of discerning the merit and value of prospective legal and or governmental reform, as I profess to personally coin and denominate: “experimentation among the States,” may be in order. For, it provides that, if not all Americans are ready for a proposed reform, one State, or a few, in the Federal Union might enact a variation upon the proposed reform, for review and evaluation by citizens and judges. Today, governmental payment of tuition to public colleges and universities, especially as recently announced in the State of New York, may provide a basis for Federal reform, especially by our current President and noted businessman Donald Trump. For, President Trump professes a belief in the economic competition, efficiency and small government that Federal tuition payments to all American schools of higher education would provide. This may be achieved by President Trump from now through the inauguration of his successor in 2025!

Lori Gayle Nuckolls

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