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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  November 2003

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE November 2003

Subject:

PT/TP 11-03 Higher education should be free

From:

Mike Brand <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 13 Nov 2003 10:43:40 EST

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (142 lines)

Subj:   PT/TP 11-03 Higher education should be free
Date:   11/11/03 11:55:56 PM Eastern Standard Time
From:   [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent from the Internet (Details)



******************************************************************
        People's Tribune/Tribuno del Pueblo (Online Edition)
                  Vol. 30 No. 15/ November, 2003

                 P.O. Box 3524, Chicago, IL  60654
                       http://www.lrna.org

******************************************************************

 HIGHER EDUCATION SHOULD BE FREE

By Marilyn Hunter

After World War II, eight million returning GIs got tuition, fees
and family living stipends from the GI Bill. They prepared for
financially stable careers, earned more and paid more taxes.  The
economy produced more and everyone benefited.  The path to college
opened up the future for them, their children and grandchildren.
The economy has changed and now that path is being closed to
hundreds of thousands of their descendants. Higher education costs
are being shifted from being a public responsibility to being the
responsibility of the student or family, and at a time when people
can least afford it.

In the last 10 years, average tuition and fees at public four-year
colleges increased 40 percent and private four-year tuition
increased 33 percent.  This year, for the second year in a row,
public college and university tuition  soared--four-year colleges
up 9.6 percent, two-year colleges up 7.9 percent.  One in three
public institutions increased costs between 10 and 20 percent, and
some by 30 percent or more. Congressional researchers estimate
this will shut about 150,000 people out of a college education.

Two-year school costs also rose. Sixty percent higher rates robbed
200,000 California community-college students of a better future.
Oregon community college tuition went up 20 percent and Portland
Community College 29 percent.  Estimates are that by the end of
this decade as many as 4.4 million college-qualified high school
graduates will be unable to enroll in a four-year college, and 2
million will not go to college at all because they can't afford
it.

Unwilling to tax the wealthy and corporations, states are cutting
education budgets, laying off faculty, cutting classes and
programs and reducing scholarships. In the 70s, federal Pell
Grants and other aid guaranteed access to public colleges for
millions of students. The maximum Pell grant covered 84 percent of
four-year public college costs in 1975. Now, it covers only 42
percent (and only 16 percent of private college costs).   Merit-
based scholarships tend to go to students from higher- or middle-
income families.  Tax credits and deductions, as well as loan
subsidies and requirements, have been changed in the last 10
years, shifting federal aid monies away from lower-income students

Student loan volume has tripled, devastating low-income families
and students' futures. In 1981 loans were less than half (41
percent) of student financial aid; today they are at almost 60
percent.  Federal financial-aid programs are being eliminated or
held at level, in spite of growing need.  A new formula will
reduce Pell Grants by $270 million, disqualify 84,000 students
from the grants, and reduce amounts for hundreds of thousands more
students

The system discourages low- and moderate-income students from
taking out loans. Eight out of ten two-year college students from
low-income families (those with incomes under $30,000)  work.
Twenty-nine percent of all two-year college students work 35 hours
or more a week. More than half of freshmen working more than 35
hours a week drop out and do not receive a degree.  (Four of five
of those working 14 hours a week or less get their degrees.)
Thousands of working students will lose aid because of a student-
work penalty, set in better times. It reduces Pell grants for
students earning more than only $2450 ($5490 if they are
independent). Limits on benefits from the military's much-touted
"$50,000 for college" program don't give enough help to the one
out of 20 recruits who even qualify.

Limiting enrollment, hiring part-time (cheaper) faculty, favoring
higher paying out-of-state students, charging new students more
than continuing ones, and having tuition caps or flat tuition for
each entering class do not begin to address the problem. Giving
grants to all low-income students sounds good, but won't happen on
a state-by-state basis.


Free Higher Education

This situation is intolerable in a just and decent society, in a
democracy. The United States has resources to pay for free public
higher education for all students who meet admission standards.
Tuition and fees at all public degree-granting institutions totals
$27 billion, less than 1 percent of the federal budget. The 2003
defense budget rose $48 billion this year, to $379 billion. The
corporate managers who run our government are spending $87 billion
in Iraq to line their own pockets (in the guise of "rebuilding" a
country they have just destroyed).  The corporate taxes lost to
the American people in the 2002 "stimulus" give-away amounted to
$170 billion. Just 10 companies (including Microsoft, GE, Ford,
IBM, GM and Enron) received $29 billion in tax breaks.  Over the
next 10 years, the Bush tax cut will give $477 billion of our tax
dollars to those who earn $1.5 million and more a year. The 10-
year repeal of the estate tax puts $50 to $80 billion in public
money into the pockets of the richest 1 percent.

Scarcity is a myth. We need the power to decide how our country's
wealth is distributed.  The government has to be held responsible
for the well-being of our people.  This won't happen without a
broad movement that understands its class interests, including a
federal guarantee of access to higher education as a basic right.

The Free Higher Ed campaign, initiated by the Debs-Jones-Douglass
Institute, a non-profit educational organization associated with
the Labor Party, is out to do just that.  Support for the campaign
from international unions and faculty and staff organizations
shows the potential to build a movement on campuses, in workplaces
and in neighborhoods. This idea must be injected into the national
political debate, linked with defeating Bush in 2004 and keeping
pressure on whoever replaces him. This is a part of an effort to
build a political organization committed to organizing around a
program reflecting the needs of working people, employed and
unemployed, poor and threatened with hardships. For more
information visit www.freehighered.org and www.thelaborparty.org.

******************************************************************
This article originated in the PEOPLE'S TRIBUNE/TRIBUNO DEL PUEBLO
(Online Edition), Vol. 30 No. 15/ November, 2003; P.O. Box 3524,
Chicago, IL 60654; Email: [log in to unmask]; http://www.lrna.org
Feel free to reproduce and use unless marked as copyrighted. The
PEOPLE'S TRIBUNE/TRIBUNO DEL PUEBLO depends on donations from its
readers. To subscribe, send email to [log in to unmask] with a
message of "subscribe pt-digest". To unsubscribe, send email to
[log in to unmask] with a message of "unsubscribe pt-dist"
******************************************************************

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