JUNE 2, 1956
NEW YORK—I have received a brochure describing a proposed plan for federal education loans called "The Cavanaugh Plan." The brochure states: "This plan guarantees to you or your children a complete education in the field of your choice. It guarantees to teachers a wage that is commensurate with the service they render directly to the student and indirectly to society generally."
Mr. Cavanaugh says that every citizen of the United States is eligible and he includes undergraduate and graduate education of every kind. The method of financing leaves the choice of schools open to the individual. The loan is to be a federal educational loan granted through the school and will cover all school costs, including tuition fees, books, etc., as well as a monthly allowance for food and rent, if this is needed.
The way this loan is to be repaid, however, is a point which troubles me. Here is what Mr. Cavanaugh says:
"It is repaid through deduction from wages, like income tax is collected, over the span of the student's working years, or if student is self-employed during those years, paid back with the income tax return.
"Small additional expense would be incurred by the government, since the Internal Revenue Department is an effective collecting organization. The loan would remain a lien on the person and his property, the same as an income tax lien, until it is paid."
I am afraid that if this were assessed in the first years after graduation, it would mean either later marriage on the part of the graduate or a very heavy burden at a time when most young men and women have little more money than they absolutely need to exist.
I am not sure really that, in a country where we now have free education up to the college level and, in certain cases, free tuition in local or state colleges, we are not nearing the point where we have discovered that it is wise to give both undergraduate and graduate college education at the expense of the state to all young people who can make good use of it.
To leave it to their parents, who naturally would want to give a child the maximum education possible, regardless of whether the child is suited to continue education, seems to me rather foolish. For the graduate must pay off the loan, and if he becomes a doctor, this will take a long time and involve a heavy debt.
It seems to me any plan such as the one presented by Mr. Cavanaugh, is helpful and should be widely discussed. But I hope the discussion will lead to more plans being proposed, as I feel there perhaps are better ways of carrying this burden.