September 23, 2016
Dear Future President:
As we think about the future of our country, there is one underlying factor that could affect how our country will continue to prosper. A post secondary education is a major factor in the prosperity of our country as it continues to run as a democracy. The attainment of postsecondary education is critical to our society, strong economy, and healthy communities. Higher education has become an important presidential campaign issue because the federal government is more entangled in the decisions being made because it was one of the largest contributions of our nation's debt.
Twenty-two of our states have recently (in the past 5 years) started programs called Local College Access Network, (LCAN) to work along side of the National College Access Network (NCAN). LCAN and NCAN, are organizations that are trying to promote college attainment rates. Michigan’s LCAN's most recent data from 2013, stated that their college attainment has increased 38.4% since this program has started. With this data, the states that have not yet created their own Local College Access Network are not stepping up to help their citizens learn more about higher education. As the next leader of our country, keep in mind that the students in the states without LCAN may not be attending college or gaining a trade which is making our society and economy weaker. Therefore, it should be mandatory in all states to have a Local College Access Network to go along with the National College Access Network.
In Michigan, the LCAN has decided to award schools meeting grant criteria up to $5000 in grant funds to help encourage higher education to include college or trade schools. This money can be used for Decision Day, College Month, College Application Week, and other college based activities at the school. If the federal government decides to not be involved in funding students and colleges any longer, the funding for this grant will go by the wayside. This will contradict the efforts put in by states and their schools. By continuing funding for postsecondary education programs and advocacy programs, we can hopefully achieve goals of having more students obtain a higher education. In Michigan, the goal is to have 60% of students seeking college attainment by 2025. This is a 22% increase from 2013, and without advocacy, Michigan, as well as other states will not achieve their goal.
When will the majority of jobs start to require a postsecondary education? According to the Georgetown University study, 62% of all jobs by 2020 in the United States will require a post secondary education. Without the financial help of our federal government the amount of college attainment will decrease by 3 billion by the year 2018. For the United States to attain their goal, according to NCAN, we need to add 1.3 million additional degrees that are currently being obtained. To reach this goal, we will need to stay the course of 4.6% increase between now and 2025.
The proposed philosophy of the “New College Concept” where funds go toward grants and colleges, ensuring students do not need to take out long term loans for tuition will help reduce the burden of living expenses at 4 year colleges. Also, the concept provides free tuition at community colleges, while requiring students to work approximately 10 hours per week. The simplification of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid,(FASFA), form, cutting interest on student loans and eventually making college education at 4 year schools free based on family income are all progressive ideas in the world or post secondary education. All of these ideas will take time to accomplish, but without forward thinking and the help of organizations like NCAN, the attainment of 60% of students seeking post secondary education by 2025 will not become reality. Your support of these goals would be most sincerely appreciated.