Notes on Students and Money

The Low-Income Challenge

What can we do – what do we do – for incoming students from poor schools and families and neighborhoods? “Students from low-income backgrounds often attend high schools without rigorous college-prep tracks, meaning their access to good information on higher education may be inadequate. Many of them are also significantly behind academically, which stymies them from applying or being accepted to certain schools. And to make matters worse, thousands of colleges across the country lack resources or programs earmarked for low-income or first generation students. That means that, while many schools enroll these students, few are equipped to actually graduate them.”

Source:, 31 December 2014

Head to Germany

The spectacular Philological Library at Free University, Berlin. Credit: Paula Soler-Moya/flickr

The spectacular Philological Library at Free University, Berlin. Credit: Paula Soler-Moya/flickr

All German universities are now free to Americans and all other international students. The last German state to charge tuition at its universities struck down the fees in recent weeks. In explaining why Germany made this move, Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a Hamburg senator, called tuition fees “unjust” and added that “they discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany.”

Note: Another country with free university education is Scotland. And yes, it still is in the U.K. – and they do speak English.

Change: Degree and Money

“In 1965, a typical man whose education stopped after four years of high school earned a salary 15 percent higher than the median male worker. By 2012, a high-school-only grad was earning 20 percent less than the median. The swing has been even more dramatic for women who stopped their education after high school: They earned almost 40 percent more than the median female salary in 1965 and 24 percent less in 2012.”

Source: Washington Post, 16 December 2014

The Solution: Free Community College?

President Obama has advocated that community college education be free to all (with a few requirements). Free! Wow! No more dropping out for financial reasons. The federal government would pay most of the cost, and the states would pick up the rest. But in the distance, we hear heads some institutions yelling “no” “stop”! Of course, proprietary colleges would suffer: why pay when you can get it free? And maybe some heads of Maryland’s four-year institutions would join the “no” “stop” yelling, fearing loss of a significant portion of their freshman and sophomore classes. Apparently, a free community college program is working well in Tennessee and Chicago. Are the U of Tennessee and U Illinois Chicago panicking?

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