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Enough is Enough: Legislators: the state should pay costs for college students

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Stewardship, common sense, a sense of reality and the ability to recognize misplaced compassion are characteristics vital to insure the success of individuals and businesses. Lacking these characteristics will make one a truly successful legislator.

They will be heralded for their courage and insight, called a champion of the people and a forward thinker. This heaped upon them by party leaders, special interest groups and the media. But the common-sense individuals and businesses that labor daily to just get by will curse those policy makers in Washington and Augusta whose progressive thoughts continually decrease the fruits of the working man’s (and woman’s) labor. They will sacrifice the working person’s well being in order to gain the support of special interest groups.

There are currently two competing bills before the Legislature in Augusta. Republican Senator Roger Katz, the Assistant Minority Leader, has introduced LD1702. Democratic Senate President Democrat Justin Alfond has introduced LD1703. The gist of these competing bills is that the state would pay the upfront cost of individuals seeking to go to college and obtain a degree.

Upon graduation, they would start making pre-determined payments to the state until the loan is paid off. The repayment starts only after an individual secures employment.

Why are these bills being introduced this session? I would hope their intent is aimed at truly helping our college age young men and women. But common sense tells me the bills have been introduced to garner their votes in the upcoming November election.

Regardless of which bill passes, you, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, will be on the hook. This along with the possible addition of 70,000 to 100,000 people to the rolls of MaineCare, the cutting or greatly reducing revenue sharing to our cities and towns and the Legislature’s failure to bring Maine into compliance with federal General Assistance laws has the potential of skyrocketing the taxes of each individual taxpayer.

How long will this insanity continue? At what point do the taxpayers join the ranks of those they are forced to help?

For the purpose of transparency, I attended Northeastern University in Boston through the GI Bill. The federal government picked up all my costs.

With the exception of Bates, Bowdoin and other popular private institutions, it appears, that since the 1970s, college standards have fallen. You were required to take the SATs to determine if you met the standards expected by the colleges and universities throughout the country. Today anyone can apply and be accepted at many “Higher Learning” institutions.

You drop out of school, no problem, complete your GED requirements and you are ready to apply and attend certain “Institutions of Higher Learning.” Can’t meet the expected requirements like reading, writing and math? No problem!

Chances are your chosen school will offer special fundraising courses, which are preceded by the term “remedial.” This helps the school to raise additional needed funds, and no credits are given upon successful course completion.

Then there are the students that attend college for no other reason than to recreate scenes from the 1960s movie, “Animal House.” How long will they be allowed to party, party, party and skip the majority of their classes before some bureaucrat puts a stop to it?

There is also the well-intentioned student that no matter how hard he tries, he’s not college material. How much debt will a person like this run up before someone breaks the news to him that he is not qualified?

Then we have those who will graduate. How many will skip out to parts unknown, failing to repay the money extorted from our struggling taxpayers? Will this problem create a new taxpayer-funded state bureaucracy formed to hunt down these dishonorable felons?

At a time when we are struggling with the current state debt, why are we adding more to it? When are people going to put aside their fear of being ostracized by a few sanctimonious progressives, stand up and adopt the mantra: enough is enough. Until they do, please don’t complain about being poorer each year.

One Response to “Enough is Enough: Legislators: the state should pay costs for college students”

  • Jeremy Brown:

    It would be wise for the state to find ways to encourage employers and potential employers to shoulder a large portion of the burden for college tuition. For that matter, reign in tuition costs. I know for sure that many colleges could easily trim the fat without in any way lessening staff pay or student education/experience.

    It would also make more sense if colleges based the tuition amount based on how much the potential student is realistically expected to make and be capable of paying back while supporting themselves over their first 5-7 years of college.

    I know many colleges sell kids a bunch of half-truths about their future employability, realistic wages once graduated, and how much they truly assist the student in finding a good job with a reputable employer.

    Fix problems like these while raising standards at colleges and improving the overall level of education and I think the student loan problem would quickly begin to iron out. It’s looked at as a cash cow because so many students are in debt that is mortgage-like either upon graduation or if they have to put off their loan by the time about 5 years has passed.

    Most students have no clue how quickly $30,000 of debt can escalate to $60,000 or sums that are much higher than those modest ones. And there is no way to get out from under that debt but to pay it.

    Most student loans that are in default can have wages garnished without a court judgment; and they can attach to garnish tax returns as well.

    I’m glad there is recourse for the lender to be able to collect from people in default who just don’t intend to pay or who don’t have financial skills. However, it becomes a horribly daunting task for many very quickly after graduation.

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