GUEST ESSAY: A new idea to fund college education, eliminate student debt

GUEST ESSAY: A new idea to fund college education, eliminate student debt

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George Altamura

George Altamura

The college-educated people are the minds of America now and for future generations. Our philosophy now is: go to college, get a degree, find a job and end up for years paying off the school tuition debt.

Think of it — it should be the complete opposite. They should go to college, become educated graduates and go into the workplace, continuing to make our country the greatest now and into the future. We owe them for their skills and knowledge that they learned in college to help make all of our lives better and for all Americans to continue to enjoy the prosperity and freedoms we possess.

Look at all the industries that demonstrate the knowledge these college grads have come up with through their invention and creativity. The idea that they have to pay America for years to come to give us the greatness that we are is simply ridiculous.

For the long term on education funding, I would like us to eventually have a plan whereby student tuition would be completely free.

Income tax relief

My plan, to start with, will have a student graduate from college with a degree. They would start paying off their student loan the year after graduation and continue for a 10-year period.

For example: If a student received $60,000 in student loans, then they would pay back $6,000 a year for 10 years with no interest after they graduate. For each year the student is paying $6,000, they would be entitled to deduct $6,000 off their income tax until the loan is paid in full.

In addition, all companies or individuals that hire a student with a college degree should pay $10,000 a year to a fund for each college student they hire.

Without these students and their new ideas, their company would be stagnant. They bring knowledge and strategy and innovation to the table, which help create a flourishing business.

I believe that people like myself — and thousands of other Americans — could donate a million dollars to this plan toward the betterment of our students to partially alleviate our nation’s student debt.

Government funding

The American College Tuition Superfund will receive 10% of the government spending that is allocated to college and university education, to put toward student debt that is currently outstanding for all students. Any school receiving government funding will be obligated to put that 10% into the superfund now and into the future or the government funds will be suspended.

If government funding for the year (which includes federal, state, and local governments) for higher education totals about $170 billion that would obligate approximately $17 billion of that total to be put into the American College Superfund annually. Student debt interest that is currently outstanding will be paid down first. Thereafter, the 10% contribution to the superfund would begin to pay down past principal (owed), current principal (owed), and future principal (owed) on all student loans.

American College Endowment Funds

Another part for the American College Tuition Plan may not be popular with universities. Many might say they do not want to share their wealth. However, I hope after they read the text, they will see this will be a win for all.

Each university that presently has an endowment program would give 25% of their endowment money, on-hand, to the graduated students of that college to help pay past, present and future interest on their loans. After the student loan interest is paid, the remainder of that dedicated fund would go toward paying past, present, and future principal owed.

Any university with an endowment fund will be obligated to put the 25% of the money on-hand in their present endowment into the student debt fund now and into the future, or all government funds should be suspended until that university participates.

Alumni contributions

For this part of the program, the money stays with the benefited university to maintain their past, present, and future student debt of their graduated students.

Each university would use the money from this alumni endowment to pay for the interest first on every outstanding loan that currently exists among their graduates. Thereafter, the Alumni Contribution Fund would be used to help pay off their student body’s principal debt.

Each university upon commencement of this program would have a major campaign call on all existing alumni of that university. The package sent out to each alumnus would state the university was undertaking a major fund drive for 180 days. It should start on Oct. 1 and end on March 31 of the next year. This way, the alumni donation could be deducted over a two-year period.

The money generated from this campaign could be broken down as followed:

— 40% into that university’s endowment fund;

— 40% into that university’s Alumni Contribution Student Fund to pay off some of the students’ outstanding interest and then, if any is left over, to go toward their principal balance owed;

— 20% into the American College Tuition Superfund.

This campaign would help enrich the school’s endowment fund, eliminate that schools student’s debt obligations and help the superfund.

Conclusion

This plan helps students with college debt and future students assuming college debt. The money would be paid back to a fund that is set-up to pay these debts off.

I am hopeful all the money being put into the funds would lower the amount owed by each graduating student.

It is time for a change. Remember there is no such thing as a “self-made person.” Our educated students make our country prosper. As a capitalist, I know we need them more than they need us.

I have hope someday that all of our college graduates will have no student debt upon graduation. Let’s do this.

George Altamura is a business owner in Napa, California.

George Altamura Sr., 88, is a business owner, developer and philanthropist from Napa, California. He is founder of the annual Hands Across the Valley fundraiser to combat hunger and has preserved several culturally significant historic buildings in Napa, including the Uptown Theatre and the Old Adobe, the oldest structure in the city, dating back to the Mexican era. This essay originally appeared in The Post-Star’s sister paper, the Napa Valley Register.

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