Free Money for College
The Free Money for All proposal includes free money for college. And not just for typical four-year college: junior college, technical college, a la carte classes and even graduate school all qualify. You can even use the money for independent study. Better yet, there are no difficult forms to fill out, or onerous qualifications. Even if you were a bad student in high school you could qualify. All you have to be is a citizen of the United States, 18 years or older.
By now some of you are thinking: “Party time! I’m going on the 6 year plan: light course load and heavy drinking!” Alas, there are also some grumpy old Republicans in the audience thinking: “Party time?! Not on my tax dollars!”
Actually, they have a point. We cannot simply make college free without money and students getting seriously wasted. But we are not proposing to make college free. We are proposing free money for college. Scratch that, we are proposing free money which you could use for college – or for a down payment on a house, capital for a business, or payments on a hot sports car. Blow the money on college when you don’t really want to study, and you’ve blown money you could have spent elsewhere.
This is the magic of free money. We provide a leg up for those born to poorer parents while preserving a sense of thrift and responsibility.
An Abstract History of Financial Aid
Once upon a time, college was for the elite: people with wealthy parents and people so smart that they could earn a scholarship. In those days college correlated with success.
Many found the situation unjust. Why should those unable to afford college be consigned to lower paying jobs all their lives just because they had the wrong parents? That’s unfair! And so they begat need-based financial aid, the GI Bill, and guaranteed student loans. And lo! The return on investment was enormous! Millions of people went from proletarian to professional class. Class lines blurred and the economy prospered.
Alas, we have gone too far.
The Grim Reality of Modern College
College is useful – especially if you have the intellect and the temperament to study in a classroom setting. And college can be great fun. Your humble author enjoyed it greatly! But college is no longer the guaranteed path to upper middle class status it once was – or at least appeared to be. Thousands of college graduates sulk behind bookstore counters burdened with student loans as their less-educated contemporaries earn considerably more money fixing cars or fitting pipes. As the value of a college education declines, tuitions skyrocket. Useless majors proliferate. Marxists professors pontificate nonsensical gibberish and get paid for the disservice.
Something went wrong.
College education is easy to overvalue. Graduates from the old days had wealth to start with and/or well above normal intelligence. These factors often lead to higher income regardless of the value of higher education. And what value college does impart is diluted by the large numbers of people attending universities. Professionals received large incomes because of the scarcity of their skills. Today’s law school graduates earn less on average than their predecessors a half century ago.
Finally, college used to be limited to those who could make good use of it. Scholarship students were intelligent and academically inclined. The full fare students were sent by their parents primarily to cultivate upper class values in order to stave off gold diggers. It mattered little if those students expended much of their efforts on frat parties and sports.
Today, we encourage everyone with sufficient test scores to attend college, even if they are the sort who learn better on the job or through self-study. For them, college is a waste of time as well as money. Meanwhile, since expense correlates with prestige, private universities race to see who can raise tuition the fastest. And they hire based as much on research as on teaching ability.
For many, college is a bad deal. But they go anyway because the government provides grants and guaranteed loans. Go directly into a trade and you lose government largesse.
The Solution: Free Money for All Young Adults
Starting capital: you either have it or you are a wage slave. Today, the government is generous providing capital in the form of state sponsored universities, scholarships and loans. The more entrepreneurial are left to fend for themselves. Ditto for those who want to start a family early – unless they join the military or go on welfare.
Our proposal is to start granting citizen’s dividend checks to all citizen adults starting at age 18 – not 21 as Charles Murray proposes. Yes, some of these young adults will blow the money on parties, sports cars, etc. But many others can use it towards college. The generous version of our proposal ($12K/year) may not be enough for today’s private universities, but it provides a foundation for support. The rest can come from work, loans and private scholarships. And maybe with students using free and clear money vs. conditional grants for college, they will price shop more aggressively. The country has plenty of underemployed PhDs who would happily teach young adults for a reasonable salary. In fact the author of this site would enjoy teaching physics if he didn’t have to also get on the grant-writing treadmill as well.