The other day, Atrios mentioned this piece about the terrible state of public higher ed in Pennsylvania. It’s an old story–the state legislature keeps underfunding state colleges and universities, so they keep raising tuition:
State lawmakers, in effect, have offloaded more costs onto college students and families. Student payments now make up more than halfof the per-student revenue at publicly supported Pennsylvania colleges, double the national average.
And because many students and co-signing relatives have to borrow, Pennsylvania college graduates rank second nationally for the highest debt with an average $37,061, according to the Institute for College Access & Success. Only Connecticut college students graduate with more debt: $38,669.
New York has gone the opposite direction, with the Excelsior Scholarship, which pays for tuition at a state school as long as the parents’ AGI is under $125K, and the student agrees to live in New York for as many years as they went to school. That’s roughly a $28K benefit over four years, though most four-year schools require two years in the dorms and on meal plans, which is around $13K/year.
In downstate New York, a $125K AGI is probably barely a living wage for a family, but if we decided to make the cap $250K or $500K, or (I hope you’re sitting down) no cap at all, the Mayo Petes of sensible modern centrism would point out that a millionaire’s kid might get free tuition, thus causing the the moral center of the universe to shift from its bearings and catapult us all directly into the Sun.
I say, fuck that noise: If we want to start winning elections, let’s give something away, and let’s give it to everyone. All of this means testing just raises resentment among people who are not eligible, yet perceive themselves as scraping by. And how will we pay for it? Real answer: just like we pay for Defense, and besides, who fucking cares. Political answer: taxes on the 1%.
The next time Mayo Pete comes after someone proposing to give something to the middle class, they should tell him to fuck off to the library, where he can spend his spare time hunting for millionaires checking out books.