The first two years of college should be free at public schools and the federal and state governments should work together to change funding models and make it possible, according to a new paper by two UW-Madison professors. The idea comes in response to what they call a deeply flawed system of awarding financial aid to fund college for most students.
To fix the system, they suggest rerouting about $80 billion in federal financial aid to public colleges and universities, including technical colleges, and using the money to cover tuition for every qualifying student.
Another $89 billion in state and local government funds would cover living expenses, books and supplies. Students would be expected to work 15 hours a week in work study programs, which the authors argue is one part of the current funding mechanism that doesn’t need much fixing.
The new system would mean a free ride — and they mean free — for the first two years.
The UW was relatively affordable back when I first enrolled in 1966. It certainly isn't now for many otherwise qualified students.
And this proposal would likely reduce the outstanding debt that burden many of today's graduates.