We could off free public college for the money we waste on student loans
It costs $69 billion a year to run our mishmash of student loan and financial aid programs, but it would only cost $63 billion to just pay for everyone's schooling.
Just like with healthcare and choosing a hobbled insurance plan over single payer, we avoid the cost-effective, sensible solution just because it smells like socialism.
If we were we scrapping our current system and starting from scratch, Washington could make public college tuition free with the money it sets aside its scattershot attempts to make college affordable today.
Of course, we're not going to start from scratch (and I'm not even sure we should want to make state schools totally free). But I like to make this point every so often because I think it underscores what a confused mess higher education finance is in this country. On the whole, Americans seem to want affordable colleges that are accessible to all. But rather than simply using our resources to maintain a cheap public system (and remember, public schools educate 75 percent of undergrads), we spill them into a fairly wasteful and expensive private sector. At one point, a Senate investigation found that the for-profit sector alone was chowing down on 25 percent of all federal aid dollars.
If that story sounds awfully similar the problems the U.S. faces with healthcare costs, well, that's because it is similar. Americans have an allergy to straightforward policy solutions involving the public sector. And for that, we pay a price.
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