Kerry offers challenges, rewards

The proposal shows stark contrast with Bush’s higher-education policies.

University tuition has almost doubled over the last three years. Sadly, we are not alone, as many public universities have also seen substantial tuition hikes.

Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry’s proposal to offer college tuition for community service would give financially strapped students another option in financing their educations.

Under the proposal, commonly called “tuition for service,” individuals could receive four years of in-state public tuition in exchange for two years of community service. The service would range from teaching in schools in low-income communities, to improving homeland security, to helping senior citizens stay independent. Over the next decade, Kerry envisions up to 500,000 participants in the program.

The program offers stark contrast to President George W. Bush’s higher-education policies. Bush froze the maximum Pell Grant for three years, though the fiscal year 2005 budget allows it to increase. He has also displayed a consistent desire to end student debt consolidation at a fixed interest rate.

Bush has his own vision of education that focuses on primary and secondary education. The problem is this vision harshly concludes that higher education is only for those who can afford it.

The tuition-for-service program is emblematic of Kerry’s vision, which recalls John F. Kennedy’s challenge “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Kerry is not giving college degrees away. Quite the contrary, participants will earn their financial assistance. The benefits society will gain from the service of young, energetic and idealistic youth working to improve communities across the country must not be taken for granted.

The tuition-for-service program is a worthwhile idea the winner of this fall’s election should implement, whoever it might be.