Gov’t support needed for affordable tuition

Andy McDonough

I love my country, and consider myself proud to be an American.

Yet, studying abroad in Ireland last semester let me in on a little secret. We don’t always get it right.

An example is government support of higher education.

Quinnipiac students without scholarships or other financial aid set aside $42,700 for room and board this semester. The Irish government supports its students, waiving tuition costs for higher education.

That’s cool, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, college tuition in the United States is skyrocketing. According to the U.S. News and World Report, the average total cost of attending a private university after removing scholarships and tax breaks was $34,063 in 2007, a 6.4% increase from 2006.

The article goes on to mention that the rise in tuition well outpaces inflation.

At that rate, I should have started setting aside money to put my kids through school while I was still in diapers.

Assisting college students could yield great benefits for our nation.

As a solution to the recent economic downturn, the government is offering tax breaks. The idea is that Americans will spend an extra few hundred dollars, stimulating the economy.

What if millions of families suddenly had an extra several thousand dollars to put into the economy?

Our generation is entering an age of globalization. We will likely find ourselves competing with people from all over the world for employment.

Those jobs will go to the most skilled workers. Therefore, education is vital.

Simply put, if a college degree is cheaper, more Americans will pursue a higher education. Subsequently, a highly educated work force will increase our nation’s competitiveness globally.

Furthermore, the very basis of the United States is equality among its citizenry.

Education is a primary basis for success in this country. If only the wealthy can attend college, such equality does not exist.

Obviously, a larger government role in financing education brings its own set of problems.

The United States is already running a budget deficit. According to, federal programs such as Medicare and Social Security are a growing burden. The money for education would need to come from a combination of higher taxes, and budget cuts in other areas.

In addition, a free education may reduce academic diligence. Some might find themselves less hesitant to skip a class if it is free.

An entirely free college education is probably not the optimal solution. However, the current growth of college tuition is clearly unsustainable.

As a solution, the government should provide additional support for education, which should target middle and low-income families.

Obviously, such a move will deepen the strain on our budget. Yet, it is a necessary burden to keep this country great.