The New York Fed released data today showing 11.3% of student loans delinquent in the final three months of 2014 (up from 11.1% in prior quarter). This doesn’t even include the half of all student loans in temporary deferment, forbearance, or grace periods by lenders. Can we get real? Financing higher education through student loans isn’t working. Public universities (attended by over 75% of American college students) should be free. Higher education isn’t a private investment; it’s a public good that lifts the entire economy, improves productivity, makes America more competitive, creates the next generation of leaders, and is essential to our national security. Free public education up to grade 6 was the standard in the 19th century; it was extended to grade 12 before World War II; and after the war was extended to public universities and, just as important, to technical education. But starting in the 1980s we gave up on free higher education.
America is now far richer than we were then. But almost all the wealth is in the hands of a small group at the top. We need a 2% annual surtax on accumulated wealth over $1 million, to finance free higher education (including world-class technical education) for all Americans.
What do you think?