JUNE 15, 1956
HYDE PARK, N.Y—A good deal of thought evidently is being given to the problem of how we can provide higher education for all of our young citizens who want it and have not the means.
The other day I wrote about the Cavanaugh Plan. Since then I have received information on another plan, based on creating an investment fund from which grants or regular loans would be made to young people for college education. Security would be doubled by asking the participation of their parents or other elders.
There is a risk in this, of course, but by and large returns from loans of this kind have been the highest of any type in the loan business. And the loans would be spread over such a large area that the risk would be minimized.
Why should not investment corporations be set up in this field, just as they are in the housing field and other areas involving installment buying, it is asked.
In this way, the young people would be enjoying education and depending on earning its value.
How much of a burden repayment of these loans would be on the first years of earning is difficult to tell. But the suggestion is made that repayment be spread over a great number of years, as is the cost of housing, with the possibility of paying on the principal at given intervals, thereby reducing the annual interest payments.
This type of plan would meet the problem of education by private means rather than by public taxation. But I am not at all sure that we should rule out the possibility of increasing public education in this country until we have opened up to every citizen capable of passing the examinations and demonstrating the desire for it all possible avenues to achieve the learning he desires.
Today, we are short of doctors, particularly in psychiatry, which is one of the new branches of medicine. This shortage costs the general public a good deal more than can be counted in money. And perhaps this is true in the need for training scientists and engineers, not only to serve in this country but in all parts of the world.
I think that since education serves the public good generally, there is a valid argument for opening it up to everyone through taxation of all the people instead of creating a burden which young people or their parents would have to bear for a number of years.
I have a letter from a correspondent in Arlington, Va., who wants to know why education is not made available to older people as well as the young and who thinks a good deal already has been done for the younger people.
Part of our survey of educational needs might well include the possibility of reeducating older people for new occupations. Although the work for which they would be trained might not be just the kind they have done, it would keep them from being a burden while they are still able to work.