Thursday, February 21, 2008


Stanford University’s announcement that it would offer free tuition to students coming from families earning less than $100,000 per year is a serious landmark move on the part of one of the world's leading educational institutions. Other institutions should follow suit particularly those with similarly disproportionate endowments from Yale to the University of British Columbia.

Practically all recently graduating North American students are now heading into careers burdened by onerous loans, weighed further by usury level interest rates. Does this make practical sense? We are creating an indentured class of citizens, and its constituents are our kids.

Is there something more important for the future flourishment of a country than the education of its children? Is our society’s future prosperity and place in the world order not dependent on the breadth and depth of their and their childrens’ learning? When did we develop the attitude that education is a privilege and not a right? As tax payers, we should want our children to receive free full education. Where does the book of common sense say that free education should stop at high school?

Whether studying to become a doctor, artist, or carpenter, education should be made equally available to all levels of society. Only through that equality do we have a chance of being a truly equal opportunity society. Broad availability of federally funded education is as significant, if not more so, than availability of medical services.

Many qualified students drop out of higher education pursuits when faced with the enormous challenges of repaying loans that can add up to annual totals of between $50,000 and $80,000. They could not, or would not, accumulate such debt. This is particularly true of students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. We just have not provided an even playing field. The gap is already too wide between rich and poor. Stanford is taking a leap forward, demonstrating leadership and vision. Most critically it is doing its part in affirming very publicly that the dream of opportunity can be a reality.


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