Superior relevant education is essential for global competitiveness and national prosperity. The following are suggestions to make it accessible and affordable.
1. Free public education from elementary schools through community and four-year colleges for qualified American citizens with community colleges primarily devoted to commercial and technical skills, and apprenticeship training in (incentivized) partnerships with industry.
2. Free public university graduate degree studies for qualified American citizens for disciplines essential to the national interest (science, physics, chemistry, mathematics, biotechnology, advanced computing and software design, engineering, etc.).
3.Modest tuition charges for non-essential public university graduate level disciplines with low cost federal government loans available for qualified American citizens with interest rates comparable to those charged to banks by the Federal Reserve open window facility. Said interest would be waived only upon graduation with loan amortization scheduled over 15 years with a pre-payment privilege without penalty.
4. Similarly, federal student loans for qualified American citizens made available in private college and graduate schools for studies in essential national disciplines only with strict limits on fees and penalties.
5. Pell Grants increased and funded.
6. Research grants increased and funded to both public and private colleges and graduate schools.
7. Colleges, universities and researchers would be allowed to benefit from commercially viable government funded research provided the government shares in the benefit and/or rewards, possibly in shares of the ventures which could subsequently be publically auctioned or sold.
8. Funding options for the above initiatives one or a combination of:
(a) Proportional reduction in military spending,
(b) Reductions in the extent, nature and costs of foreign military actions,
(c) Dedicated surcharge on the basic rate of a new graduated flat tax code that eliminates all
loopholes, carried interest rates, tax deductions, tax shelters, tax havens, mortgage interest deductions except on primary residences, special interest subsidies etc.,
(d) A dedicated liquor, cigarette, gambling, junk food, candy and soda pop taxes,
(f) Tax real estate holdings of religious institutions,
(g) A dedicated uniform and global transaction tax on all stock, bond and derivative transfers.
9. Automatically grant green cards to all foreign college and advanced degree graduates of U.S. and overseas schools.
10. Establish a priority and expedited immigration policy with automatic green card eligibility for all qualified foreign applicants with college and graduate school degrees or essential skill sets.
11. Establish special scholarship programs to U.S. public colleges and graduate schools (administered through American embassies worldwide) for the best and brightest foreign nationals similar to the Pell Grant Program (subject to a U.S. employment requirement upon graduation as a payback) to help make America the world magnet for R&D, innovation and commerce.
12. Require all higher educational institutions to comply with standards of responsible conduct including transparency and full disclosure of student financial obligations and other needs.
13. Endorse a mandatory policy in which private (tuition charging) institutions allow new students to enroll in a 21-day trial period without incurring any tuition related debt.
14. Provide incentives and adopt efficiencies to hold down college costs: reduce high salaries and country club perks and expand paid and/or volunteer administrative and other student/work programs, etc.
15. Require non-government student lenders to: (a) reduce student loan interest to the same rate the lenders receive from the Federal Reserve open window facility as a condition of receiving said FR funding with strict limits on fees and penalties; (b) extend the student loan amortization schedule to ease student affordability and repayment burdens; and (c) interest free federal government loans for public graduate school students with extended amortization schedules for affordable repayment (could be in the form of withholding tax surcharge).
16. Create college or graduate study/work and/or apprenticeship programs in which industry would pay student costs and tuition in return for employment contracts on reasonable terms and lengths of time.
17. Encourage public/private partnerships between industry and school systems to: (a)improve educational, high-tech and apprenticeship training from middle school through college; (b) create a skilled relevant work force; (c) offer students the incentives of career opportunity and a decent future to remain in school, get educated, skilled and graduate; and (d) help ensure the ability of the U.S. and its businesses to better compete in the global economy, prosper and maintain world leadership. Said partnerships would be encouraged by cost savings and incentivized with corporate tax credits for contributed corporate equipment (which could also be donated), facility use and/or loaned instructional personnel and the availability of extant government training programs, etc.