College Costs & Ideas

I was lucky and made some good decisions about college. The lucky part is I failed out of Clarkson. Three semesters there cost just over $21,000, a paltry figure today but overwhelming then. I had a grant or two and my parents absorbed the majority of the bill. God bless 'em. On the way home from failing out with all my stuff in the back of the station wagon, I sat nervously waiting for Dad to go off on me. Instead, he said, "the next school is on you."

So it was. I went to Onondaga Community College for two semesters, total cost $1,340. I paid out of pocket. Then I paid for SUNY Oswego without incurring much more debt, maybe a couple thousand dollars. I got into a graduate school that, for one out-of-state student (me!), waived tuition and gave me a teaching fellowship that allowed me to make money while attending full time. Within five years of graduation I had paid it all off.

My kids shouldn't have to depend on luck and penny-pinching. It's in everyone's best interests that children be educated and come out of school as something more than indentured servants.

Elizabeth Warren is talking about debt forgiveness. She'll be labeled whacko for that (Americans can't allow women to voice ideas without first belittling the women and the ideas) but the idea makes sense. College and university have become ludicrously expensive and not because professors and adjuncts make so much money. The system is broken and needs a radical fix.

I'm suspicious of free college tuition. I was more engaged when my money was involved and tuition is only a fraction of total costs. I don't have the solutions, so I'll vote for someone who is thinking well about them. Elizabeth Warren is talking the talk so far. I'm listening.