Europe is now almost completely tuition free, while American students are pinned under massive debt. Which is the better system?
In 2006, Germany started charging students for college and university tuition. Yes, you read that right, Germany started charging college tuition in 2006. As in 8 years ago. The cost went up to about $630 a year when students were forced to take out loans to pay for tuition and living expenses. There were large protests, but Germany kept the policy in place until this past week. That’s when they eliminated all tuition fees, saying that they don’t want to discourage young adults from getting a higher education.
Germany called these past eight years an “experiment.” If loans were taken out for living expenses, which the nation recognized as being quite high, then the repayment period doesn’t start until five years after graduation. The entire payback period? It’s 20 years.
Another fascinating fact about Germany’s new tuition policy? Any American can attend a German college or university for free as long as the student can speak German. If you’re interested, buy a Rosetta Stone language package and go to it! That’s your tuition.
In 2009, England started charging students tuition at their colleges and universities as part of their austerity cuts. Tuition went up 9,000 pounds not to mention living expenses on top of that. The loans can reach £21,000. There is 3% interest, variable with inflation, charged to loans around £41,000.
England is the last European country that charges tuition, so hopefully they’ll follow Germany’s example. England is the exception within the United Kingdom. A higher education in Scotland remains tuition free. In Northern Ireland and Wales, fees are currently charged up to a maximum of £3,290.
Times Higher Education, a British publication, states: “In Hesse, for instance, students protested en masse, a citizens’ initiative collected 70,000 signatures, and the ruling Christian Democratic Union party, fighting for re-election in 2008, reversed course in order to retain power.
Tuition fees then unraveled at almost the same speed as they had been stitched up. Those state governments that followed Hesse’s lead in abolishing fees stayed in power; those that refused were removed from office at the next election.
The U-turns involved were often spectacular. The conservative prime minister of Bavaria, threatened with a fee referendum, arm-twisted his liberal coalition partner into abolishing fees. He survived the election of September 2013 but his liberal partner, the Free Democratic Party, having announced it would return with a better idea on fees, lost power.
The idea of paying for college was repugnant enough to students and citizens that it forced a quick and major political change”
Student Loan debt in the United States cripples many graduates, especially those who are having a difficult time finding work. The United States also has the highest tuition in the world. Elizabeth Warren has been on a crusade to lower interest rates and help give students more time to make payments.
American graduates have to start making payments within six months after finishing school, giving young adults a sense of impending doom. Starting in 1982 under Ronald Reagan, tuition has skyrocketed all across the country. Graduates in the United States are paying 4.5% interest and have 10 years to pay it off. The average debt is $30,000 and the average payment on that would be $450.00 a month.
It is unfortunate that our politicians believe the student loan crisis in the United States isn’t worth their time. State aid virtually ended during the financial crisis in 2008, so there are less grants for the needy and loans have become necessary just to attend junior or community college.
And while America’s young are strapped to a yoke of debt, what jobs are waiting for them? Internships. Service jobs. Entry Level positions. Certainly nothing that pays at a rate they will require just to meet their student loan payments, never mind silly things like rent and food.
Here’s your rock: Crushing debt to begin your career with. Here’s your Hard Place: This career won’t pay you enough due to the loans you took out to educate yourself to, drum-roll please, begin your career!
America itself suffers as we now have an economy with an entire class of people unable to participate in it. If people have no money, people can’t buy stuff, can they? Not to mention you now have a destitute and ill-informed populace, easily manipulated by an upper class through media, propaganda, and corporations.
And meanwhile, European young people are achieving their dreams through accessible education. Those nations benefit from this as they are growing a class of people not saddled with debt and therefore are capable of contributing to the economy! Not to mention you have an educated populace, a good foundation upon which future generations will flourish.
If we want to stop the dumbing down of future generations, access to education is paramount to a society, including the poor. Keeping a small slice of the population rich and educated and the vast majority destitute and deprived is a sure recipe for vicious and bloody revolution. History proves that, repeatedly.
And if people are kept from learning history due to lack of education, then they are most certainly doomed to repeat it.
“Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.” ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables