Taxing Wealth to Make Public College Free Again

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A California Trend Worth Catching: College for All

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(Photo: COD Newsroom / Flickr)

California can be an annoyingly trendy state. Think avocado toast, In-N-Out Burger, Hollywood fashion, even legal pot.

But Californians are now in the vanguard to fix the serious problem of how to pay for public higher education.

Over 44 million households in the U.S. are saddled with college debt — $ 37,000 on average. Together they owe over $ 1.4 trillion, surpassing credit card debt and auto loans.

In the 1970s, California led the world with its famously accessible public universities and community colleges. Millions of Californians received a virtually debt-free college education.

A friend of mine attended both undergraduate and grad school at the University of California in the 1970s and covered all of his tuition and expenses by painting houses during two months of the summer.

That’s not possible anymore. Decades of tax cuts for the wealthy, state budget cuts, and rising tuition and fees have pushed costs much higher — and right onto students and their families.

Between 2011 and 2017, in-state tuition and fees at the University of California rose by nearly a quarter, from $ 10,940 to $ 13,509. Out-of-state costs grew to over $ 40,000.

San Francisco voters took a bold step in 2016 to push back on that trend.

They voted to tax luxury real estate tax transfers, generating over $ 44 million a year from property sales over $ 5 million. The city allocated a portion of this revenue to provide free tuition and stipends to San Francisco Community College, boosting enrollment by 16 percent.

“I jumped at the chance,” said Cynthia Diaz, a San Francisco resident studying early childhood education. “I have less stress juggling work, family, and school.”

Diaz has joined an effort to expand the concept beyond San Francisco. She’s collecting signatures for the California College for All initiative to expand college access for over 2.5 million California students.

If successful, the effort will generate an estimated $ 4 billion a year to invest in public higher education — and greatly reduce tuition and fees. Over 80 percent of the funds will be targeted to students based on need.

Funds will come from restoring a state inheritance tax on Californians with wealth over $ 3.5 million and couples with over $ 7 million. These same households just got a massive tax cut at the federal level, as Congress voted to double the family wealth exempted by the federal estate tax from $ 11 million to $ 22 million.

At a time of extraordinary wealth inequality, taxing wealth to pay for higher education is a powerful idea. If the California initiative passes in November, it will serve as a model to the nation for how to both reduce concentrated wealth and expand college opportunity.

It may sound radical. But the idea basically restores the formula for college access from the post-World War Two era. In the decades between 1945 and 1980, we taxed high incomes and wealth at much more progressive rates and invested in expanding public higher education.

Other states are addressing this problem too.

Tennessee created the Tennessee Promise, a scholarship and mentoring program that provides two years of “last dollar” assistance to college students to fill any gap not provided by Pell Grants. In Michigan, a group of anonymous donors started the Kalamazoo Promise, guaranteeing free tuition to students who graduate from that city’s high schools.

Other states, such as New York and Massachusetts, are moving toward free community college.

But the California solution would be the most comprehensive initiative yet, covering millions more students at all levels of the public education system.

That’s the best idea since beach volleyball and Mickey Mouse.

The post A California Trend Worth Catching: College for All appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

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Republicans are Right: Going to College Hurts

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(Photo: iidea studio / Shutterstock)

Going to college is a good thing, right? That’s at least what I was told as a kid, and what led me to get a college degree. I was the first one in my family to do so.

Yet new public opinion polling shows most Republicans think colleges have a negative impact on the country. Unfortunately, they might be right — but not for the reasons you might expect them to give.

Attending college has been proven to unlock opportunities. A report by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities found that college graduates are 24 percent more likely to be employed than high school graduates — and earn $ 1 million more over a lifetime.

Those with college degrees are also more than twice as likely to volunteer, and over three times more likely to give back to charity.

College educations also affect the way people vote. Three-quarters of bachelor’s degree holders vote in presidential elections, compared to just over half of high school graduates.

So why might some view college negatively? Well, there’s a lot of reasons — 1.3 trillion, to be precise. That’s how much debt students, current and former, are carrying in this country: $ 1.3 trillion worth, and rising.

Who’s hit worst by this skyrocketing debt? Women, who owe two-thirds of that amount — and especially black and Latina women.

A recent report from the American Association of University Women found that the average woman who graduated from a four-year university between in 2012 carried $ 21,000 in college debt. That’s about $ 1,500 more than the average man. Black women are even more negatively impacted, averaging over $ 29,000 in student loans.

Worse still, women are paid about 80 cents to every dollar a man makes — a number that falls to 63 cents for black women, and just 54 cents for Latina women, when compared to white men. That means these grads start out deeper in debt and then have a much harder time getting out.

So, is rising Republican opposition to the academy a result of their concern for the economic well-being of black or Latina women? Doubtful.

After all, our GOP-led Congress refuses to engage with potential solutions to close the gender wage gap, which could make huge strides in reducing overall student loan debt. And not a single Republican senator supported the Pay Check Fairness Act, which would make it harder for employers to discriminate based on gender.

Same goes for the College for All Act, a bill put forward by Senator Bernie Sanders to create a debt-free higher education system and help student borrowers refinance their debt. A lot more effort is needed on the federal and local levels to remove this economic burden systemically placed on women.

Unfortunately, the Pew study that showed Republican opposition to universities didn’t dive deeper as to why. However, an old quote from Karl Rove, the Republican mastermind responsible for bringing George W. Bush into office, offers a clue: “As people do better, they start voting like Republicans — unless they have too much education and vote Democratic.”

What else about college might rub conservatives the wrong way?

Colleges provide a space for critical thinking where students can expand their minds and become more knowledgeable of the world. That might be why universities have historically played major roles in the resistance to bad public policy — from Vietnam to Iraq to today’s #resistance to Donald Trump.

Fixing higher education means reducing barriers to college, not increasing them. Greater investment in debt-free higher education and debt relief for the most impacted students, including black women like me, is what’s needed — not mindless broadsides against the idea of education.

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Another For-Profit College Folds

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(Photo: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com)

Picking the right college isn’t a fun process.

Whether you’re a high school student eyeing your next step or a bit older looking to improve your career, the cycle of researching dozens of schools, preparing lengthy applications, waiting to hear back, and then figuring out if you can even afford it seems endless.

But now, prospective students have one less option to choose from. And in this case, that’s a good thing.

ITT Technical Institute, the national chain of for-profit colleges, has shuttered its doors. The private company will shut down its 130 locations in 39 states, promptly ending education services for over 40,000 students.

The move comes after the Department of Education blocked ITT from accessing federal student aid programs, citing the school’s failure to meet the standards of accreditation for providing a quality education.

ITT is the second major for-profit college chain to close down, following Corinthian Colleges, which closed under similar circumstances in 2015. While this change will be tough for current students and recent graduates to sort out, the schools probably should’ve shut down a lot sooner.

As U.S. Senator Dick Durbin recounted in a recent Frontline special, “This is the most heavily subsidized private business sector in America. No one compares. Defense industry, agriculture don’t hold a candle to these boys.”

The problem lies in the company’s business model. ITT received nearly all of its revenuefrom taxpayer funded federal student aid programs. It uses this revenue to recruit students, the overwhelming majority of which never finish their course of study.

The quality of education and well-being of their students takes a back seat to their marketing efforts.

If this sounds a bit like a scam, the Department of Education agrees with you. As do the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Securities and Exchange Commission, and more than a dozen state attorneys general who’ve all investigated ITT.

The school’s closing comes as cold comfort to the current and former ITT students, many of whom face tens of thousands in debt without much to show for it. One group of former students are refusing to pay their loans, calling for a debt strike against the school, following in the footsteps of a similar effort led by Corinthian Colleges graduates.

Their campaign for debt forgiveness may be less idealistic than it sounds.

A provision in the laws governing student loans provides for “borrower’s defense to repayment” if a school engaged in fraud. This process is slow and far from guaranteed, but it may be the best hope for many former ITT students.

For-profit colleges were once seen as an innovative advancement in education — the private sector filling a need the public was failing to provide. In recent years, this myth has been largely debunked as for-profit schools are shown to charge more money for worse outcomes than their public equivalents.

Many high-profile politicians have endorsed for-profit education over the years, including presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.

Donald Trump went one step further by creating his own for-profit school, the now defunct Trump University, which has seen its own share of controversy and fraud allegations.

Students need to be protected from fraudulent schools that don’t provide the quality education they claim.

Closing ITT Tech after years of infractions and mismanagement should be a warning to any other institution that might consider profiting from higher education at the expense of students’ wellbeing.

The post Another For-Profit College Folds appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Josh Hoxie directs the Project on Opportunity and Taxation at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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College Campus Protests Include United Students Against Sweatshops – Forbes

College Campus Protests Include United Students Against Sweatshops
Forbes
2. Which sportswear and clothing manufacturers concern USAS most? Right now, USAS is concerned with the sweatshop labor practices of Nike, Inc. In October 2015, Nike did not allow the garment industry's premier independent monitoring organization, the …

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College Campus Protests Include United Students Against Sweatshops – Forbes

College Campus Protests Include United Students Against Sweatshops
Forbes
2. Which sportswear and clothing manufacturers concern USAS most? Right now, USAS is concerned with the sweatshop labor practices of Nike, Inc. In October 2015, Nike did not allow the garment industry's premier independent monitoring organization, the …

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Why College Football Fans Are So Much Crazier Than NFL Fans – Maxim


Maxim
Why College Football Fans Are So Much Crazier Than NFL Fans
Maxim
Many (not all, mind you) will admit the existence of some things more important than football: war, famine, terrorism, deforestation, the birth of children, the death of parents, high blood pressure, low self-esteem, the Islamic State, near-Earth

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A perspective on the Greek economic crisis – College of the Atlantic News


College of the Atlantic News
A perspective on the Greek economic crisis
College of the Atlantic News
The day before yesterday, July 1 2015, I walked alongside others on their morning commutes, as shops were opening for business; the central market was well into its morning operations, and people were headed out to buy meat, fish, and vegetables. I was

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Farm Show Visitors to Learn Gardening from Penn State ‘Masters’ – State College News


State College News
Farm Show Visitors to Learn Gardening from Penn State 'Masters'
State College News
If you enjoy gardening and then preserving the fruits of your labor for consumption year-round, you may want to visit the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences exhibit at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, which runs through Jan. … Tracy Hoover

and more »

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Former migrant worker, tire shop owner now gives college career advice – Highlands Today

Former migrant worker, tire shop owner now gives college career advice
Highlands Today
Jesus Hernandez of Avon Park, 22, now a biology major at the University of Florida, also spent summers in the fields of Highlands and Polk counties as the son of migrant workers. From Gainesville, he said Torres' had tips and wisdom that exceed his

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