Free college sounds great. But Dems’ higher-ed plans draw scrutiny in Michigan.

Michigan State Beaumont tower

Just what proposals such as free college and student loan forgiveness would mean for Michigan is unclear. The devil’s in the details, experts say.

Sometimes, Kyle Kast daydreams about what life would be like without $65,000 in student loans.

Maybe the Lansing resident, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees, would go back to teaching, a job he loved but that he left for a higher-paying private sector career because of his $500 monthly loan payments.

He’d make that trip to Ireland he’s thought about for years but can’t afford. Recently, his passport expired. He doesn’t see a reason to pay to renew it.

And he could funnel the cash he now spends on student loan payments to build up a retirement fund. At age 33, he said, he’s “way behind.”

The rising cost of college affects the ability of Michigan residents to enroll as freshmen, and hobbles grads with debt that can take decades to pay off.

With just a month before the March 10 Michigan presidential primary, Kast, who attended Michigan State, Arizona State and Northern Arizona universities, is among Michigan residents sizing up Democratic candidates’ plans for shaving the cost of higher education.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have proposed plans that would eliminate some or all student loan debt, and make attendance at public universities free. Other Democratic candidates offer more modest plans, from easing costs at one- and two-year higher education programs to forgiving student loans based on income or public service, but all include plans to address rising college costs. You can read about those plans here. 

What would those free tuition mean for Michigan, and for Michigan residents like Kast? 

‘Free’ college

Michigan ranks 21st in the nation in high school graduation rates, but just 33rd in the percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree; 51 percent of the state’s adults have an associate’s degree or higher, compared to 54 percent nationally.

That matters because income typically rises with education levels. On average nationally, people with a bachelor’s degree earn $900,000 more over their lifetimes than people with a high school diploma.

Michigan students from middle- and high-income backgrounds attend and graduate from college at rates similar to those across the nation, but its low-income students enroll at lower rates.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said getting more high school grads onto campus or into job training certification programs is key to improving the state’s economy. Whitmer has set a goal of having 60 percent of Michigan adults with a certification or college degree by 2030.

“When you talk to families about barriers to going to college, affordability is almost always one of the first things mentioned,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, executive director of Michigan College Access Network, which advocates for increasing college and job training enrollment.

Removing cost from the calculation from decisions about whether to attend college “is a great opportunity” to increase college enrollment, Fewins-Bliss said.

Several efforts in Michigan are already edging toward free college for some families, but don’t go as far as Sanders’ and Warren's plans.

Two years ago, U-M launched the Go Blue Guarantee financial aid program offering free tuition to Michigan residents with family incomes under $65,000, which includes roughly half of state households. The result: The percent of applicants and enrollees from low-income families is inching up at a school that has traditionally had trouble attracting poor students.

This fall, Wayne State University followed suit. And recently, Whitmer proposed Reconnect, a program that would make job training and some college free to many Michigan residents over the age of 25.

Democratic presidential candidate proposals range from making college free for all students at public universities through federal grants, to support for the use of state and federal grants to cover one- and two-year programs for associate’s degrees, certifications and job credentials. You can read the candidates’ plans here. 

In all, eliminating tuition for all students at all public colleges and universities nationwide would cost at least $79 billion per year, according to data analyzed last year by The New York Times.  The federal government already spends some $91 billion on policies that subsidize attendance, such as aid to veterans, according to the same analysis. 

Donald Heller, former dean of the School of Education at Michigan State University and current provost at the University of San Francisco, is a critic of free college proposals, calling them “an inefficient and ineffective use of federal dollars because it does not provide enough financial support for the students who need assistance the most.”

Heller said “free college” sounds appealing, but in the end it subsidizes “the education of wealthy families” whose children would enroll in higher education institutions anyway.

That’s similar to the view of candidate Pete Buttigieg, who doesn’t favor universal free college, but supports providing tuition subsidies for families earning up to $150,000 and boosting the maximum Pell Grant by $1,000.

Far better than across-the-board free college, Heller said, is to focus taxpayer money on additional aid for low-income students.

“Free tuition isn’t enough” for many low-income students, Heller said. “They often face $10,000 to $15,000 in additional costs, like housing and food.

“Like any policy, the devil’s in the details,” he said.

Impact on state colleges remains unclear

The plan of current Democratic frontrunner Sanders calls for the federal government to pick up the tab for college, meaning there would be no impact on the state budget. Andrew Yang, in contrast, would have the federal government buy all the outstanding student debt, then forgive it if students repay 10 percent of their salary for 10 years. 

It’s unclear what impact free college proposals would have on Michigan’s public universities, said Brendan Cantwell, associate professor of educational administration at MSU.

Currently, universities can adjust tuition as costs change, Cantwell said. How would a federal free-tuition program adjust for different costs on different campuses as well as the state budget?

Michigan’s government subsidizes colleges, sending $1.5 billion in 2018 alone. But over the years, Michigan colleges have raised tuition as that state aid has failed to keep up with inflation. In 2015, tuition constituted 69 percent of college revenue in Michigan, the sixth-highest in the nation. 

Cantwell added that universities would be concerned that a large influx of federal dollars would include more federal strings. 

“Maybe there would be additional restrictions” on how money is spent, Cantwell said.

The plans of most candidates assume there would be a mandated state-funding match to access federal grants for free college, said Dan Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities, which advocates for the state’s 15 four-year public universities.

Sanders’ plan, for instance, provides states $47 billion per year to eliminate tuition, but requires states to come up with the remaining $23 billion per year the senator expects is necessary to eliminate tuition. 

Similar state match policies could mean Michigan would strain to take advantage of the program, because the state has been stingier than most in its higher education funding, Hurley said.

“It has to be a partnership, and not just a federal giveaway,” Hurley said. “Otherwise it would be remarkably inefficient and expensive.”

Loan forgiveness

In Michigan, the average college grad who took out loans now leaves campus with $35,000 in debt.

The total student loan debt in the country is now more than $1.4 trillion. In Michigan alone, it’s $47 billion.

Average loan debt for former Michigan college students increased 29 percent in five years, the seventh-highest rise in the nation.

About six in 10 Michigan students leave college with student loan debt.

Two candidates, Sanders and Warren, have proposed wiping out that debt for most students. Other candidates, including Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar, have proposed easing repayment plans, tying student loan payments to income, or erasing some debt in exchange for public service.

Because the vast majority of loans are federal, the proposals wouldn’t have a direct impact on the state budget.

The proposals could offer a shot in the arm to the state economy, as residents reroute money formerly spent on student loans to other purchases, such as homes and cars.

“You’ve got an entire generation who are hemorrhaging a huge portion of their income and not contributing to the economy,” said Mark Rivett, an Ann Arbor resident with about $50,000 in student loan debt.

One study found that college grads with student debt were 36 percent less likely to consider buying a home.

“You do the math, and millions and billions of dollars are being taken out of the economy,” said Rivett, who attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and now works for the University of Michigan. “You’re forgiving debt in a way that allows people to contribute to the economy.”

Lansing resident and student loan holder Kast called the prospect of wiping out his $65,000 in loans “magical.” 

So did Hurley of the Michigan Association of State Universities, but in a different sense. Hurley said he believes proposals to wipe out student debt are not realistic.

Nor is Hurley a fan of Whitmer’s more modest recent budget proposal to create a $10 million rotating fund to allow former college students to refinance their loans at lower rates. He said he believes it’s best to invest “on the front end, with financial aid for students, rather than on the back end.”

Added former MSU dean Heller, “You’ve got many students out there who are very successfully paying back their loans. Why should they get a free ride?”

Rivett sees it differently, arguing that if Wall Street got $700 billion in bailouts in the housing market crisis of 2008-09, college grads should be eligible for a government bailout, too.

A study late last year by Moody’s Investors Service concluded eliminating student debt nationwide would “contribute to a modest increase in household consumption and investment,” but increase the likelihood of future borrowers running up big debts in hopes they would be forgiven. 

MSU’s Cantwell agreed that student loan forgiveness “is no different from other one-time stimulus policies.

”It certainly would help lots and lots of people,” Cantwell said. “The question is, what do you do the next day” with people who take out loans after the loan forgiveness policy. “Would you create a cycle, where every 10-15 years, there’s [a call for] another loan forgiveness program? If so, what is the incentive for anyone to pay their loans?”

Heller argued that programs that target loan forgiveness for students who go into public service, or who took out loans for classes at for-profit institutions with little educational benefit, are a better use of money than universal debt bailout.

“Let’s focus on those who need it,” Heller said.

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Kevin Grand
Tue, 02/11/2020 - 7:19am

I'll give The Bridge credit for at least acknowledging that "Free" college, isn't exactly "free". It's a shame that was only a one-off in the above piece.

Now for the elephant in the room: How do these democrats respond to Americans who have been responsible with their children's education?

Ducking the question and grinning like an idiot doesn't exactly help those running for office.

Now, when can we see something on WHY colleges cost so much?

Colleges trying to out do theme parks in order to attract new students?

Consistently increasing salaries and benefits?

All that worked well and good when they had a captive customer base and didn't need to be responsible with their money like adults have had to do out of necessity for years.

The writing is on the wall.

This is why the tone of these pieces have always focused on the revenue end and NEVER on the expenditure side.

Alexander Beaton
Tue, 02/11/2020 - 9:42am

Speaking as a Democrat, I agree with you. College is an investment in one's self. Subsidized loan programs, grants, and scholarships are all well and good, but when it comes down to it, you have to want it bad enough to spend your own money on it, borrow if necessary, and choose a field that will return your investment. We should be focusing on the high cost of a college education, not trying to make it "free" which will only lead to runaway costs.

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 7:17pm

I agree with you and with Kevin and will add a couple of considerations. What is free is undervalued, people better appreciate what they have pay for so they are more committed to making the sacrifices necessary to earn a degree when it is their money they are spending.
How many are start school and stop because of the cost of tuition, and how many start and stop because they fail to put in the work [studying rather than partying]?
We help our daughters with room/board, they worked jobs year round to pay tuition and pay for their degrees. They found it make them more disciplined in managing their time and even built their [mental and physical] stamina. They are continuing that with their children. There is a whole added learning experience by paying for your own education. I found when involved with new graduates, that the ones that paid for their degree were quicker to be a contributing employee, they already knew that work was more then just the degree.

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 7:54am

Talking about giving away stuff for free is a good way to lose the election. The Dems risk turning the election into a referendum on Medicare for all and free college tuition. They need to make it about keeping Trump from taking away what people already have, such as health insurance and the access it provides to health care, and coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Sat, 02/22/2020 - 12:14pm

Medicare for ALL is not FREE .You pay into It with every paycheck and also Social Security.I cannot believe you>people dont chek your paystubs!Add up 30-40 years of Paying in to It,Plus a 10% interest ( intereset in 1985 was 18% in my saving account )So Wallstreet :Had Big Banks and AIG bail-out and used your SS lockbox Money for a Bail-out! in 2004..) A Congressmen from Michigan Forecloused on 80 000 home and still does IT!.)But saving account would make us all rich<

jan d
Tue, 02/11/2020 - 8:53am

If you don't work for something it doesn't have the value. Give students something to work for, accomplish and revel in knowing they can achieve. I suggest eliminating all Pell grants, stipends, student loans, etc. Community junior college should be tuition free for everybody. If you eliminate all the other programs this shouldn't cost any more than we are spending now. Do not provide books, housing, food, etc. Let the student put some skin in the game and see their efforts pay off. Anyone who accomplishes a two-year degree or completes an accredited program should then be eligible for an interest free loan to complete a four-year degree. Let people reap the benefits of working for something and realizing hard work pays off.

Greg Nagel
Tue, 02/11/2020 - 9:35am

I agree Jan D.
I didn't take school seriously until I had to start paying for it and I've heard others say the same thing.
Your plan has a lot of merit.

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 3:40pm

I call BS on that! College used to be much more affordable, including free under the GI Bill. Ironically old fogies like you don't seem to remember your government gravy-train that you've decided to take away for students today.

Allan Blackburn
Tue, 02/11/2020 - 7:24pm

Not sure where you got the notion that people who received the GI Bill got college for free. I served at the tail end of Vietnam and the GI Bill was nice but it certainly did not pay for my college. I did receive Pell Grants, worked a full-time job, a part-time job and went to school full-time for 6 years. I also took out student loans. Your post is pretty insulting in that people donned a uniform to protect their country for absolutely horrible pay and the GI Bill was a good incentive providing you didn't come back in a body bag. You also call us old fogies, fair enough and you , if you are lucky, will arrive at some point. In the plus side of your comment I happen to agree with EB about how states invested in education and we all received the benefits from it in the form of higher wages for the educated, higher tax revenue generated and greater entitlement contributions of which we all benefit from when it's our turn to collect. Michigan invested in education until we had to give massive tax cuts to those who already have a lot. Corporations and already wealthy individuals. We are always sold the lie that the tax cuts will pay for themselves and they never do. Reagan, Bush, Trump and when the deficit explodes we have to cut spending on entitlements; the golden goose which makes conservatives salivate at the prospect. In our state we have made college extremely unaffordable yet we give tax cuts to corporations for the promise of jobs which never deliver the amount touted. We all courted Amazon and they went elsewhere Thank God! Yet we decry investing in the greatest asset we have, our children and their future. These are the future for all of us. They will take care of us when we need physicians, nurses while in the hospital and elder care when we can no longer care for ourselves. They are the engineers, the scientists, the computer geniuses, etc. We want the high wage earners as we are hell bent on turning away immigrants in spite of the fact that they add to our safety net financing, pick our crops, engage in higher education and jobs which our own citizenry have not stepped up to the plate to engage in. Because we provide little in the way of childcare for couples our birth rate has also gone way down as couples have to work just to make ends meet, delaying having children or not having any at all. I don't know what people don't get. We never seem to have enough money to spend on unending wars, a military which exceeds the expense of the top seven largest militaries combined, huge tax give aways to those who already have enough and the hell with the rest of us. I also agree with not giving away college for free as there really should be skin in the game. When I went to college, after the service, I saw many on their parents dime, partying and not taking the opportunity seriously. I loved college, took it seriously, was 22 years old when I entered and graduated Magna cum laude. I became a high earner as a healthcare executive and retired after a 40 year career. I paid a lot in to state and federal taxes and also Social Security. There are many ways to assist with college education including deciding what we really want as a nation and pressuring our elected officials in to providing for those funding priorities. Education is a primary one and we should be investing in it. Students also have the opportunity to go to the military and receive the GI Bill as it stands today. There is also the opportunity to work for underprivileged rural areas for a period of time to exonerate college debt. These opportunities should be expanded on as we are experiencing teacher shortages in our state and we should incentivize people for choosing this profession. An educated state benefits us all and is a very worthy investment.

Thank you
Wed, 02/12/2020 - 9:34am

First off, thank you for your service. Second, thank you for your comprehensive post. Third, thank you for making the best of your life experiences, clearly enhanced by critical thinking skills honed in college. There should be more people like you running for office.

Clearly funding for college/university in the US has decreased dramatically in the last 50 years. GI benefits have also been harmed, unjustly, with obstacles and threats of cuts. At the same time, Snake Oil Salesmen have been increasingly opening sketchy unaccountable for-profit colleges that suck tax-payer dollars. Think Trump University.

Agreed, skin in the game has benefits in many ways, but there's a big difference between that and having to sell your organs for a college degree. Moreover, all Americans should have to do a year of national service, in some capacity, be it military or otherwise, to develop a sense of patriotism, cohesion, give back to the country you love.

On the other hand, you generalize with unfair stereotypes that partying in college happens only because students are there on their parents' dime. That's not necessarily true across the board. Some students in those circumstances choose to be responsible and not party, despite the social pressures to do so. Likewise some students with big loans party anyway because our culture promotes the idea of excesses as something "American" and aspirational.

You wrote a great post, just would recommend breaking it up into paragraphs. That would make it easier to read. Other than that, please consider running for office. Lastly, who would you like to see as president in 2020?

Thu, 02/13/2020 - 6:32pm

It would be interesting to hear what the contributing factors [actual tabulation of why and how] preventing achievement of a degree or certification are. How many of all who enter advanced schooling drop out due to finances, due to lack of learning effort, due to lack of capacity, or to support family, medical reasons, lack of institutional support, etc., so we could be talking from real data rather from headlines and political speculation.

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 12:42pm

The tuition costs for higher education are currently astronomical and the state contributes far less every year, aggravated and compounded by all the societal hardships that have also increased exponentially. It's harder to focus on school commitments when you are facing all the other increased hardships, even for children of the vanishing middle class, let alone poor and working class families that face those hardships starting in preschool!

Sat, 02/15/2020 - 3:11pm

No disagreement, there are many challenges to advance learning [degrees or certifications], but I suspect they have been faced and overcome by many others. What I am asking for is to see what the challenges are, which are the more prevalent today, then we can begin asking those who have overcome them how they did it. The effort needed to solve problems can be significantly lowered by seeing how other problems have been addressed by others.
I have found it is better to learn from success and that means looking for success rather than exclude success to only focus on disappointments [barriers, failures]. One of the concerns I have is that students maybe seeing the problems for the first time without knowing anyone that has had to face them or have found ways to over come them. Why not learn from success and help others leverage those successes, rather than trying to solve all student problems by making school free.

Barry Visel
Wed, 02/12/2020 - 11:30am

GIBill was not free education. It helped for tuition up to a capped room and board...I worked through college to pay for that. And, of course, let’s not discount the 2-4 years we served at low pay knowing the education incentive was part of our package. And, just so you know, this “old fogie” has a nice nest egg saved to help my grandkids’ education if they need it...assuming the progressives don’t tax it away for all their “free” giveaways. We need more education on what the term “liberty” means, together with the fact our Constitution says nothing about giving the Feds authority over education (Article 1, Section 8...nothing there about education...or many other things we’ve allowed our Federal government to assume control over).

Government Eggs
Thu, 02/13/2020 - 5:24pm

You saved for your grandkids because you got substantial government assistance for higher ed.

The GI Bill gave World War II servicemen and servicewoman many options and benefits. Those who wished to continue their education in college or vocation school could do so tuition-free up to $500 while also receiving a cost of living stipend. As a result, almost 49 percent of college admissions in 1947 were veterans.

The cost of college degrees earned in the 1940s--tuition at Yale was $450 in 1940--through the 1980s looks like a bargain compared with the cost of those today.

Greg Nagel
Tue, 02/11/2020 - 9:25am

To Mark Rivett - Mark maybe you should have "Done the Math" before you borrowed thousands of dollar to attend an art school.

Do it right
Tue, 02/11/2020 - 9:36am

Free if you stay and work in Michigan for ten years after graduation.

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 11:43am

Do it,
Didn't we learn about that in American history? Wasn't it call indentured 'labor'?

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 9:44am

If we spent the money we waste on football and other sports on actual education, we would have a surplus.

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 9:56am

There are some alternatives to debt forgiveness that could make a difference.
-Make student loan debt totally deductible
-Expand forgiveness for certain jobs/areas
-Make debt forgivable in bankruptcy but not until a fairly long period of time, 10-12 years

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 10:05am

Sane people know that when people talk of free that it isn't and making a big deal of it is just a way of dismissing the idea of public support without discussion.

In this era of increased complexity, technology, and income inequity, the US (and states) need to support education to a larger degree, ie. it has to be a larger portion of GDP. This works as witnessed by the GI Bill after the second world war and the increased support of math and science in the 1960s that made the space program competitive.

Although eliminating tuition for public schools would benefit both the rich and the poor, the effect on the low income student would be much greater.

I am wondering, however, how out of state tuition would be handled. Michigan's universities get a larger share per student from those out of state students.

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 10:06am

If someone is intent on giving away other people’s money, then at least there should be some way to make sure it goes to a student who wants a degree that is in demand. It makes no sense to subsidize students who are flooding the market with useless degrees when there is a shortage of workers in other fields.

Jeffrey Kless
Tue, 02/11/2020 - 2:34pm

A degree in history worked just fine for me in the the construction business. Somehow I was able to manage the construction of a 45 story condo in South Beach to a GM stamping plant in Mansfield Ohio to numerous hospitals from
Anchorage to The Bronx.
It is not written anywhere that a liberal arts degree will preclude you from working on another field.

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 8:18am

I would suggest your success had almost everything to do with your personal characteristics and almost nothing to do with your history degree! This is not to say there is no value in liberal arts but ascribing one's personal career and financial success to a BA is a tough connection.

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 9:42am

Same experience here.

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 11:24am

Why did you choose history rather than project management or another technical degree?
Was you role designing the building, the loading factors, the concrete, the utilities, and such? I know that many of the technical fields have handbooks that list much of the science that is used in the various technical fields, but it takes understanding different basic sciences to apply the specific equations and technology in those books.
I give you full credit for achieving your successes, but I wonder how much added value your degree brought to your employer versus if you had a related technical degree, how much more learning you had to do to succeed. I suspect your learning how to learn in earning your degree that created more value then what you learned.

Barry Visel
Tue, 02/11/2020 - 10:31am

With this and all the other so-called ‘free’ programs the Dems want to give away I say...”Ask not what your Country can do for you...”.

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 3:44pm

Ask not what your Country can do for you...Ask how we can make our country smarter, with more critical thinkers!

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 1:08pm

Barry Visel: Can you read? Many (if not most) of the Democrats on this forum are against free education. The Democrats are the fiscally now..we NEVER would have given a trillion plus to mostly people who didn't need it. Now every citizen, not just those who voted for the orange Anti-Christ, will be paying for this debt for decades. What did I buy with my tax cut? Not a thing. It wasn't enough to create a blip on my financial radar. Free college for everyone just means a meaningless degree that just becomes an entitlement... Good thing Obama didn't speak against free education , because Trump would lash out in his Mothra fury and give free education to all.

Barry Visel
Fri, 02/14/2020 - 2:49pm

I think you missed my point.

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 12:00pm

When I started college in Michigan way back in 1964, my best estimate is that Michigan taxpayers paid for about 80% of what it cost to educated me. Since I wasn’t the most ambitious of students, didn’t want any debt and a two-year interruption in my education by the United States Army, I didn’t finish the degree until 1972. I estimate that in the end, Michigan taxpayers were paying around 70% of what it cost to educate me. U.S. taxpayers chipped in with a pretty generous GI Bill and if I remember correctly Michigan taxpayers kicked in an extra $1,000 for serving in Vietnam. Let me take this opportunity to thank all of you who were taxpayers back then.

Today, Michigan taxpayers cover less than 25% of the cost of educating a kid in state college. At UM I think that percentage is closer to 10%.

We boomers turned out to be a selfish bunch. We reaped the taxpayer largess for our education and are too stingy to help our kids, grand-kids and great-grand-kids. Shame on us!

I noticed
Tue, 02/11/2020 - 3:50pm

You are absolutely correct and thank you for your service. Moreover it seems the draft dodgers of the boomers are by far the stingiest. Think the D student grifter bone-spurs president who lost all daddy's money and filed serial bankruptcy.

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 12:03pm

For Trump and his ilk their millions of dollars in bad decisions get wiped away by bankruptcy, as was so for Trump over and over as he got old and older. That protection for a new start from making a bad financial decision at an early age is unfairly denied college students. If bankruptcy was right and proper for Trump, the same needs to be the case for young folks that are far more likely to live and learn that Trump will ever be.

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 12:28pm

The dumbest comment section I've yet to read on here. Folks, Millenials are drowning in debt, and GenZ are right behind them. Breaking into the middle class at this point is basically impossible if you don't have at least a bachelor's, and that comes with at least 10k worth of debt at the cheapest of state school. You whine and moan about how America is falling behind, but you refuse to invest in an educated workforce that can compete in a global economy. JFC, how did you all get to be so myopic?

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 8:25am

What's the average car loan out there? A car is absolutely as important to one's career as is a BA. Aren't people drowning in car loan debt? Maybe you'd support free cars? Speaking of Myopia...

You're Ridiculous
Fri, 02/14/2020 - 12:51pm

Yeah, just forego college and get car loan to work as a greeter at Walmart! How about free or low cost high speed public transportation for all, so they can get to work or school and not be drowning in debt? Michigan is the most backward state in the industrialized world, let alone in this country. Michigan used to be wonderful.

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 1:15pm

Since college is now seen as largely a tool for the recepient to ultimately get a higher paying job, as opposed to it's origional purpose, is it fair to expect that there should be some kind of reasonable return on investment for the recepient and for the society financing this endevor? Seems that this call for FREE college (paid by someone else) seems to acknowledge that this return has now become poor at best.

Thu, 02/13/2020 - 5:40pm

Spoken like a greedy uneducated fool. The returns on a college degree are still better than those for merely a high school degree, but college degrees cost more than they used to.

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 8:26am

It's called basic arithmetic! If the expected gain isn't enough to pay back the original investment in a reasonable time period one should question this or any investment decision before proceeding. Life is rough without these skills, isn't it?

Larry Andreano
Tue, 02/11/2020 - 1:54pm

College does not hobble people with debt. Individuals choose to borrow money and often borrow so much that they have trouble paying it back - this is poor decision making on their part. Many, Many, Many individuals choose to work their way through college and possibly take way longer but not use debt.

Responsible taxpayers should never be put on the hook for those who are irresponsible. How in the world could anyone think that - for example - borrowing $100,000 makes sense when you will only earn $30,000 your first year out of college? Absolutely a poor decision and it is no one else's fault but the person that made the decision. I get really tired of reading/hearing that this debt is somehow forced on students - it isn't and none of us know what the student spent the money on that he/she borrowed. A simple solution - be responsible. If you create a problem for yourself - get yourself out of the problem - work three jobs if you need to, many of us did just that.

Wake Up
Tue, 02/11/2020 - 3:52pm

College costs exponentially more than it used. Read the comments.

Wake Up
Tue, 02/11/2020 - 3:52pm

College costs exponentially more than it used. Read the comments.

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 5:22pm

Which is EXACTLY why anyone planning to attend college should be doing a realistic cost/benefit analysis to figure out "if I spend $100,000 to get a $25,000/year job, after taxes and living expenses, can I afford the debt service on the loan?" If a prospective college student cannot go through that kind of simple analysis, it may mean college is not for that person.

The reduction in taxpayer support for college didn't just happen yesterday. That is no excuse for failing to go through the above analysis.

Your logic flawed
Thu, 02/13/2020 - 5:43pm

You generally can't do better without college! So your cost/benefit analysis rant is a RED HERRING.

middle of the mit
Tue, 02/11/2020 - 9:43pm

After reading the comments I think some people have blown this way out of proportion and it even goes against what they say they want for the State and Nation.

On one front they will tell us that isn't free. You are right. I would prefer to call it PUBLIC EDUCATION. And here is where being against PUBLIC EDUCATION goes against the values they say that Americans have to have to continue to be the worlds leader, education. A hundred years ago or more, is when PUBLIC EDUCATION began in America. And it was grade school or less. Then PUBLIC EDUCATION went to High School. And here we are telling us that we need to be educated even more that that just to get a job.

But is business going to help at all? There used to be apprenticeships that the business would pay you to learn the trade while earning a living. Then they expected the State to do it. Now they don't want to pay the taxes for that either, so they ask the individual to do it.

If you don't like PUBLIC EDUCATION, let's get rid of the whole kit and caboodle. Kindergarten, grade school, middle school and high school! NO FREE EDUCATION for anyone! Let's see where that gets us as a State and Nation.

The second exaggeration that I see is that "Everyone is getting a liberal arts degree! Useless in the work place!"

That depends on what your job is. But I suspect these are not the majority of degrees or classes taken other than for an elective or hobby. And they are no where near the majority. Just a talking point.

Third are those that say" Well I paid my or my kids way through collage, why shouldn't you do the same?"

I understand that argument. Most of them are older and the State and Feds or military probably helped them out more than they would like to think. The article above shows a few examples

And if you didn't receive that break? I am sorry. I truly am. But those would be the market forces that you wanted. You helped change the laws and taxation to make it that way. So why am I sorry for something you voted for?

But that only goes back to the 1990's. And conservatives will blast on about higher professor pay, but are professors supposed to accept the same pay they did in 1990?
What about market forces? What about getting paid your worth?

Isn't it amazing how if you pay workers a living wage. you know, a wage where they are at least able to afford the rent in the area they are working and then apply for foodstamps to supplement their food budget, or Professors making an upper 5 digit or lower 6 digit salary are considered the drivers of inflation but CEO's that get golden parachutes in the the upper 6 digit if not mid 7 digits for destroying or just running companies aren't driving prices up at all?

Now I am not saying that collage should be free like Kindergarten - High school. But there shouldn't be the debt that kids have to pay today. The interest on that debt is worth twice what they took out, maybe even more.

What this country needs is a Year of Jubilee! Every 7 years and a Usury law.

It's Biblical. And it might be what can save this nation and it's economy. If you don't have rent seekers, they won't overcharge and there might not be as much debt or inflation.

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 9:47pm

Well MoM supposedly the average student loan debtor has $35k in debt and supposedly a college degree holder will make 2x what a high school grad or non degree holder will make. Do you believe this 35k is a good investment? Is 35K in loans ( a car loan today and way smaller than a mortgage!) a terrible burden to double one's lifetime earnings? So what is the crisis here?

MSU UofM Dad
Wed, 02/12/2020 - 5:34am

As a father who financially helped my kids through college, I also dream of taking a vacation to Italy. Do you know why I can't , or my kids couldn't when they were in school? Because we were paying for college. You obtained 2 degrees, find a job and pay for your schooling like we did. Signed - liberal dad.

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 12:07pm

Aside from not having any interest in traveling to Italy, we ensure our daughters [who worked to pay tuition and books] could earn their degrees [their kids are all on the same work and pay path].
Being a recovering 'yellow dog' Democrat, I suggest you are closet 'conservative' in the deep recess of your mind/heart. You feel responsibility and personal accountability for your life and those you created. You feel it is your life and you will work at making it the way you want to live, rather than delegate it to some government agency and employee.
A simple test is whether you believe the government would/could create the advancement of quality of life you have seen grow in you lifetime, if you believe that the people in our government agencies are smarter or wiser than the collective wisdom of the marketplace, whether you wish agencies/programs could be accountable for their actions/decisions, if you wish there were competition for the services that government provides? Each yes, increases the likelihood of social/political principles.

Must See TV
Wed, 02/12/2020 - 9:55am

You have to watch this hilarious interview between Hasan and Bernie Sanders:
Public education makes life better for everyone, rich, poor, or somewhere in-between.

Feeling the Bern
Thu, 02/13/2020 - 5:47pm

I see the fascist-Trump sympathizers can't rebut Bernie.

John Ric Curtis
Mon, 02/17/2020 - 1:20pm

Government subsidy/loan assures continuing increases in costs. Tax-payers are not able to scrutinize purchases the way that individual consumers can.