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With The 12-Point Platform, this won't happen: College students sleeping in their cars to avoid debt

This story from 2014 made my blood boil. Here it is again:

Josiah Corbin spent a lot of weeknights over the past four years sleeping in his car in a Walmart parking lot.

Thanks in part to his routine, the 23-year-old will graduate from the University of Maine with a biology degree, and without debt, on Saturday.

Corbin, a fifth-year student who took his last exam Thursday, got a work-study job in his second year of school that kept him on campus late — sometimes past midnight. His family’s Dover-Foxcroft home is about an hour drive from the UMaine campus. Once he decided on a science major, he found many of his required classes were only available at 8 a.m., which meant very little sleep, especially when he had to factor in drive time and studying.

Corbin didn’t get as much financial aid as he hoped and didn’t want to incur student debt over his next four years of school. So he made an unusual decision — hunker down in the car.

He started out sleeping in a parking lot near Alfond Arena on campus, curling up in his car, a rusted-out 1987 Toyota Corolla. By pulling out his front passenger’s seat, he was able to lay down a small “mattress,” which isn’t much more than a body pillow. By wrapping up in a couple of sleeping bags, he was able to make himself “relatively cozy.”

After a few weeks in a UMaine parking lot, police found Corbin in his car late one night and told him he couldn’t sleep in his vehicle there. So Corbin relocated to Walmart in Bangor, which has a relatively steady population of overnight sleepers, according to Corbin. Some come in recreational vehicles, others in their cars. A surprising number of them, especially in warmer months, are from Canada, he said.

Walmart policy allows recreational vehicles to park in its lots as space allows, but the policy doesn’t say anything about people sleeping in cars. Walmart says on its website that sleepover policies and regulations largely are up to individual stores and local laws. Corbin said no one from Walmart ever bothered him about sleeping there overnight in his car.

Corbin estimates he probably saved about $8,000 per year avoiding room-and-board costs, avoiding a meal plan and cutting down his commute. That works out to $32,000 through the course of his college career, most of which he would have needed loans to cover.

Tell me its not a great country!

Oh, and the state of Maine could use good biologists, a degree you can only get from a legitimate university, and not the community college Obama so insultingly offers. Germany has no-fee university education:

If Germany has done it, why can’t we? That’s the question being asked by many students around the world in countries that charge tuition fees to university. From this semester, all higher education will be free for both Germans and international students at universities across the country, after Lower Saxony became the final state to abolish tuition fees.

It’s important to be aware of two things when it comes to understanding how German higher education is funded and how the country got to this point. First, Germany is a federal country with 16 autonomous states responsible for education, higher education and cultural affairs. Second, the German higher education system – consisting of 379 higher education institutions with about 2.4m students – is a public system which is publicly funded. There are a number of small private institutions but they enrol less than 5 per cent of the total student body.

Potted history of back-and-forth between conservatives (pro-fees) and non-conservatives (no-fees) omitted. Also, even the fees, by U.S. standards, were ludicrously small.

In successive years, as soon as state government elections have elected social democratic or green party governments, tuition fees have been abolished. The state of Hesse, for example, had tuition fees for only a single year. In the end only two states were left with tuition fees: Bavaria and Lower Saxony. The conservative government of Bavaria gave into the mainstream and abolished tuition fees in the winter semester 2013-14, with Lower Saxony abolishing fees in the winter semester 2014-15.

But the heads of higher education institutions negotiated with their ministries, arguing that they could not properly do their job of offering high-quality student experience if the loss of income from tuition fees was not compensated one way or another.

So most states have agreed to compensate their higher education institutions with extra money – not quite covering the loss in fees though – which was to be invested exclusively into the improvement of the quality of studies and teaching. Most ministries decreed that students had to be involved in decisions about how and for what purposes the money was going to be spent.

The present situation is that all higher education institutions receive a budget from the responsible ministry of the state in which they are located, based on annual or biennial negotiations. This basic budget is complemented by additional agreements between higher education institutions and the state concerning the intake of additional numbers of students and the money to compensate the loss of income from tuition fees.

There are additional funding programmes – some funded jointly by the states and the federal ministry – for supporting and promoting research, in the competition for excellence.

Of course, most higher education institutions continue to feel underfunded. The pressure on academic staff to attract external research funding has increased, as has competition for such grants. Still, compared to other countries in Europe, German higher education institutions continue to be rather generously funded by their states – an estimated 80 per cent of their overall budgetary needs. There are also ample opportunities and considerable amounts of external research funding available.

Despite the fact that competition for funding and accountability has increased in German higher education, there is still a general consensus that it is a public system and should be state-funded. The abolition of tuition fees, even by conservative state governments, reflects this consensus too.

If the Germans are rich enough, we're rich enough. Unless our goal is to keep our young people stupid and/or chained up in debt.

The 12-Point Platform:

#7. Free Public Education, pre-K-16

What you should get with a basic life in America.

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Comments

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

repression of dissent. Also, too, teaching to the test (a test based upon conservative Texas school board texts) keeps people from stocking their analytical tool box. Production of the poor and stupid has advantages in a world increasingly being turned into one large sweat shop.

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/barack-obama/obama-budget-middle-class-eco...

Sorry to drag you back into commentary on the days news, but this was just too appropriate to your topic to pass up.

"...we have to build on the bipartisan budget agreement I signed in 2013..."

More austerity (chained CPI?), more defense funding.............I see a lot of the "good stuff" he is proposing as a smoke screen for the truly awful. He never follows through on the stuff you might want, just the shit that you know you will truly hate. That's bankable.

Submitted by lambert on

The trick for me is to weave them together. Maybe after I get deep enough into all the 12 Points and 12 Reforms, I'll have filled the well with enough information do that in near real time, but I am not nearly there yet.