A story in the New York times today, Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say, highlights the need for additional resources to be devoted to making higher education affordable.
Education is the primary driver of social mobility between generations. Everyone should have access, not only those with families with sufficient resources to do so on their own. Only in this way is the overall benefit of the society served over the long term. Student loans are simply not effective to mitigate the difference (See Student debt pushing more people toward bankruptcy, lawyers say, that appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
We should fully support higher education at the federal level. This support should be directed to public schools and take two forms. First, direct grant funding to institutions for research and instruction as a budgetary supplement. Second, a substantial increase in grant-based financial aid. The current individual burden imposed by funding through student loans is unconscionable; many students leave school owing $40,000 to $80,000. This is an amount that imposes an undue burden on the student, since the economic benefits of education flow to the entire society, not just the student. Accordingly, society, through government, should bear more of the burden.
If elected, during my first term I will seek to expand the Pell Grant program so that each student is eligible to receive an amount equal to 70% of the average total cost in fees, tuition, and room and board at public universities.