Cal  Thomas
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It is something of a truism that whenever the federal government steps in, costs usually rise and efficiency declines.

That is especially true when it comes to a college education, which President Obama promised during the 2008 campaign to make more affordable. "We've got to make sure every young person can afford to go to college," he said then. Instead, tuition costs keep rising, along with the debt owed by increasing numbers of graduates, who are now campaigning -- with bipartisan approval in an election year -- for Congress to stop interest rates on their subsidized Stafford loans from doubling in July.

I feel about those with crushing tuition debt the way I feel about people who choose to live along the frequently flooded banks of the Mississippi River. If students and their parents choose expensive schools, they should accept the responsibility and cost accompanying that decision.

The federal government has no constitutional authority to require people to receive an education. Education should be the primary responsibility of state and local entities (and parents). Taxpayers should not be expected to pay for college tuition when graduates default on loans they agreed to repay. What kind of life lesson is it when this early test of a young person's character is said not to matter?

But, today, is all that college debt even worth it?

The value of a college education -- at least at the more pricey private universities -- is declining. An Associated Press analysis of government data found more than half -- 53.6 percent -- of bachelor's degree-holders under the age of 25, either couldn't find a job, or were underemployed last year.

The AP story references a 2011 New York Times article reporting that only half of the jobs landed by new graduates "even require a college degree." Worse, numerous studies over the years have found too many college graduates often do not meet minimal requirements employers are seeking. Paying more, getting less. That sounds like what we get from government and the U.S. Postal Service.

A surprising new report from the Pathways to Prosperity Project, based at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, concludes that four years of college may no longer be the best preparation for a job and career.

As noted in Harvard's education magazine, "...we place far too much emphasis on a single pathway to success: attending and graduating from a four-year college. Yet only 30 percent of adults successfully complete this preferred pathway. Meanwhile, even in the second decade of the 21st century, most jobs do not require a bachelor's."

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Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
 
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