When a student graduates from college, it should be one of the most exciting moments of their lives. Finally, after years of grueling work, long papers and sleepless nights, they are rewarded with a degree and new opportunities for the future. Unfortunately for the average American college student, this means they have also racked up tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. But Democrats have been steadfast trying to change this and Vice President Joe Biden is the latest of a long line of politicians, to call on our lawmakers to invest in higher education and make college free.
During his press conference in the Rose Garden on Wednesday, Biden made a point of addressing the nation’s crippling student loan debt crisis. College tuition rates have skyrocketed in recent years, leaving thousands of college graduates with massive amounts of debt when they are just starting their professional lives. The average college graduate owes $29,000 when they walk across the stage and accept their four-year degree. Biden said:
“We’re fighting for 14 years,” he said, likely in reference to President Obama’s plan to provide two years of free community college. “We need to commit to 16 years of free public education for all our children.We all know that 12 years of public education is not enough,” he continued. “As a nation, let’s make the same commitment to a college education today that we made to a high school education 100 years ago.”
We are one of the only developed nations that does not offer its citizens free or at least heavily subsidized college education. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also believes students should not be saddled with debt when they graduate. He, like Biden, want to eliminate tuition for public universities and colleges. President Obama also wants to do away with the costs associated with two years of community college of students maintain a certain GPA.
Republicans are not so generous. They appear to believe we cannot afford to invest in our future, even though we spend more every year to subsidize college education than it would cost to pay for free tuition. ThinkProgress reports that all of the tuition for every public school would be roughly $65 million for two- and four-year degrees.
In addition, we already know that investing in college pays off in the long run. The more educated our workforce is, the bigger positive economic impact we have. The smartest thing we can do is invest in our students, it would ensure that we could compete in the global economy. The Republican Party gives billions of dollars to the oil and gas industry, if they can afford to do that, then we can certainly spend money on college education. There is no logical explanation for Republicans to continue to fight free tuition, but they continue to do so because they are far more concerned with giving corporations more money and couldn’t care less if our students are drowning in debt.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.