Associates Degree utilizing FREE MOOC Structure - An Open Letter to the Secretary of Education
To all of my friends who have already begun dividing themselves from their family and friends due to politicians, please allow me to provide clarification regarding Obama's Free Associates program. And heck, even a solution.
First, this idea was never supposed to pass. His intent was never to give you free college. If that was the President's intent, he'd have done it when he had control of both sides of congress.
No, he proposed this because he knows that the Republicans will oppose it. And he hopes this forces the youth vote to go to the Democrats in 2016 (It didn't). If for some reason the Rs don't take the bait and a version of the idea passes, he wins because he's once again increased the size of government in our lives and created more wealth spreading.
ACTUAL SOLUTION: If Obama actually wanted to give a free education he'd have a professional educator within the Dept of Education (assuming there is one) develop an Associates of Arts and Associates of Science curriculum completely consisting of ALREADY FREE courses that you can take online.
People completing the curriculum are awarded an Obama Associates Degree.
It took me about 45 minutes yesterday to find 60 hours of English, math, history, arts, physical science and elective courses taught by Ivy League schools such as MIT, George Washington Univ, Harvard, Univ Texas, Rice, Stanford, Brown...
For more info on these free courses start at www.coursera.org, www.mooc-list.com, www.edx.org, www.oeconsortium.org, heck even iTunes U!
If you're a politician and actual education of the population is your goal, there's no excuse. Do it now. These courses are online with little to no overhead.
Don't let politicians sweet talk you into stealing money from all in order to send more people toward an ever-decreasingly valuable college degree!
Here is my open letter to the Secretary of Education:
Honorable Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos,
According to College Board, since 1990 college tuition and fees have ballooned nearly 160% (after adjusting for inflation) and have doubled yet again since 2007, amassing more than $1 trillion in debt  . The average college graduate now completes a Bachelor’s Degree encumbered with $26,000 in student debt. Additionally, U.S. is experiencing a swelling of student loan defaults, wage garnishments, credit score impairments and higher fees associated with failure to repay loans.
Higher costs are the culmination of three primary conditions. Firstly, the recent economic downturn has squeezed funding to colleges creating budget shortfalls. These shortfalls have been mitigated by shifting the burden onto the students, thus resulting in tuition rates increasing at 8% per year and doubling every nine!  Figure’s 1-4 reveal the decrease in federal funding during post-recessionary years compared with the increases in tuition costs. Figure 5 reveals how recessionary pressures force governments to reduce their spending and increasingly shift the burden to students.
Furthermore, colleges have experienced the ‘Third-Party Payer Problem’ where users of a service aren’t directly paying the bills. Since guaranteed federal student loans and grants are not capped at logical rates, but instead, based on any price set by universities, the institutions have little incentive to cut costs or curb excessive spending. Aware that students will just borrow more, colleges solve budgetary issues by increasing tuition perpetually. Demonstrating a similar abuse is the example where a university was incentivized to pay homeless individuals a small $2,000 stipend in order to receive a guaranteed $20,000 from government coffers.
Finally, the higher education sector suffers from ‘administrative bloat’. As budgets expanded in prosperous times, universities invested in greater infrastructure and expansive services to attract new students. Equally, the pace of associated administrators and non-professorial staff has exponentially outpaced actual educators, and in some cases, educators having actually diminished. This administrative expansion creates greater bureaucratic complexity and requires more funding spent on wages, benefits and pensions. 
President Obama outlined a plan in his 2016 Budget to provide matching federal grants to states that waive the cost of tuition for students seeking an Associate’s Degree. This renewed national focus on the increased cost of postsecondary education and associated political will to curb costs has created an environment ripe for policy change.
A Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) is a model seeking to augment educational institutions by using simple widespread-technology such as smartphones. These courses consist of lectures that have been prerecorded for convenient offline viewing along with forum discussions, assignments and quizzes taking place online. There are currently over 4,000 courses from hundreds of prestigious universities (even University of Dayton!) that offer free MOOC classes. In 2013, the University of Maryland was among the first wave of schools to begin accepting these transferrable credits toward a degree. With companies like Udacity and StraighterLine already producing accredited courses, high scalability has been proven as costs of course development are quickly returned by iterating the courseware to class sizes of upwards to 225,000 registrants. 
DOE has the unique ability to solve this issue. This policy recommendation simply advances that DOE reprogram a small cadre of educators with the mission of aggregating and accrediting the full spectrum of free and near-free courses which comprise a standard Associate of Arts/Science degree. Students are then provided variety of which ENGL 1302 or which HIST 1301 they enroll in and therefore bypass the monopolistic relationship that befalls a student enrolling in a traditional university. Additionally, free-market principles would force universities and course providers to keep costs low while also demanding greater innovation in delivery and content. At a time when more students than ever must maintain full-time employment while attending school, this added flexibility is exceedingly valuable.
Costs associated with this policy would be offset by federal Pell Grant savings not being paid out during the student’s first two educational years. Pell money was initially created to ensure poorer citizens had equal opportunity to afford higher education, however it has ballooned into much, much more. The Congressional Pell expansion of 2007 “expanded eligibility and funding for the program, which resulted in a doubling of the number of Pell recipients since 2008.” Consequently, Pell spending now eclipses $33 billion amongst all undergraduates, easily the largest share of DOE’s budget. Significant savings can be achieved when two of a student’s four-to-five years of undergraduate education require no subsidization at all. Shifting Pell funding from mandatory to discretionary would furthermore allow greater Congressional oversight on a year-to-year basis.
We are currently in a unique “education pre-bubble” phase where decisive action can provide the flexibility the higher education industry and its budgets need. Millions of Americans can complete their Associate's Degree without the ill redistributive effects of taxes, subsidies or increased bureaucracies.
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1. Donna M. Desrochers and Rita Kirshstein, “Labor Intensive or Labor Expensive? Changing Staffing and Compensation Patterns in Higher Education,” Delta Cost Project, February 2014.
2. Judah Bellin, “Tuition Will Keep Increasing as Long as Washington Bases Loans on College Costs,” Washington Examiner, August 23, 2013.
3. Naked Law, “Eight Reasons College Tuition is the Next Bubble to Burst,” National Center for Policy Analysis, June 08, 2010.
4. Phil Oliff, Vincent Palacios, Ingrid Johnson and Michael Leachman, “Recent Deep State Higher Education Cuts May Harm Students and the Economy for Years to Come,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 19, 2013.
5. Jon Marcus, “New Analysis shows Problematic Boom in Higher Ed Administrators,” New England Center for Investigative Reporting, February 6, 2014.
6. Anne Ryman, “GOLDWATER INSTITUTE: Nation’s Universities Suffer from Administrative Bloat,” The Arizona Republic, August 17, 2010.
7. Kathryn Pandes, “Online Course Advances Understanding of Retirement Planning and Pension Policy,” Stanford Graduate School of Business, February 3, 2014.
8. Lindsey Burke, “4 Key Reforms That Could Make Colleges More Affordable,” The Heritage Foundation, September 15, 2014.
9. Angelica Gonzalez, Courtney O’Sullivan, “Why is College so Expensive?” National Center for Policy Analysis, No. 726, September 30, 2010.
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