Threat to the American Dream

A high voter turnout among college students Tuesday could force the next president to focus on correcting one of the most dangerous threats to the American Dream: exponentially rising tuition rates. According to a College Board report released last week, public appropriations from state and federal governments plummeted in the late âÄô80s and early âÄô90s, and fell again between 2000 and 2003. At the University of Minnesota, a year of tuition currently costs $10,000. In 1970, students paid just $400 for the same education âÄî or about $2,200 in todayâÄôs money. The cost of attending the University has increased astronomically in nearly two decades: tuition in 1990 was just $2,232 or $3,830 today. During the third presidential debate, both candidates addressed the costs of college. Barack Obama said he proposes a $4,000 tuition credit for students who perform community service each year. John McCain said he supports making more loans available for students, with changes to the current repayment timelines and loan eligibilities. But the issue has not been pressed throughout the campaign and could therefore be a low priority for the next president. Countries around the world are injecting money into secondary and higher education, and those countries are quickly turning out the worldâÄôs top scientists, economists and international leaders. The United States is moving in the wrong direction in that trend and its economic standing and security are at risk. Our next president needs to change the way the federal government deals with the cost of higher education, so that when the next generation faces war or financial meltdowns or whatever social tumult may come, they have well-educated leaders from all disciplines who are prepared to face the challenges of tomorrow.