POINT OF VIEW: Community colleges lower-cost alternative for taxpayers

The Palm Beach Post editorial, “Senate wants to fix colleges but they’re not broken,” (Sunday ), examines a vital topic — the access to affordable education for our taxpayers and their children, and the equitable distribution of our tax monies for our benefit as citizens of Florida, not for the benefit of the university college system at the expense of the community college system.

Sadly, like other industries, public and private, our educational systems are profit-driven and self-serving. Even the so-called “nonprofit” sector of public education is out for getting as much as possible for themselves at the expense of other entities vying for the same dollars. Educators lobby lawmakers at every level to get what they want — not necessarily what is in the best interest of Jane and John Q. Citizen and their children.

The four-year degrees granted since 2001 at our community colleges are a godsend for our taxpaying populace. Instead of the roughly $10,000 (in tuition and fees) a year to attend one of our state universities, folks can attend for about $5,000 a year to get a bachelor’s degree in programs such as nursing at our community colleges. This makes a bachelor’s degree accessible to many more people. These programs should be expanded, not limited.

Private colleges and universities, and technical schools, are typically more costly than public, as we know — costing twice or three times as much for a degree, or more, than their public counterparts. Many students and their parents who choose a private university take out student loans to pay the $20,000-$30,000-a-year cost. Most of these loans are underwritten by the federal government — also known as us, the taxpayer.

The community college entrance into the four-year degree field is an excellent answer to extricating ourselves from this conundrum. The main reason federal student loans exist to begin with is not primarily for the students’ benefit, but rather for the economic benefit of the schools. Students can already get a decent education in most any field at the state universities, which are already heavily subsidized by us, the taxpayers.

Many economists are predicting that the huge arrears and massive number of defaults in the federal student loan program will be the next giant meltdown to harm our national economy. Let us hope the community colleges — and the taxpayers — will not be victims of it.


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