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Opinion: Higher education is a critical issue in this presidential race
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People make their way through the University of North Georgia Gainesville campus Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, on the first day of the fall semester. - photo by Scott Rogers

With early voting soon to start, it is now time to decide who you will vote for — Biden or Trump. 

An important issue is higher education. 

President Trump and his surrogates have criticized higher education for its high tuition. 

Yet according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, out of the 16 states that make up the Southern Regional Education Board, the University System of Georgia has the fourth lowest in-state tuition and fees for undergraduates at four-year institutions. 

Furthermore, according to the University of North Georgia’s online tuition calculator for fall 2020, a full-time undergraduate seeking a bachelor’s degree on the Gainesville campus would pay about $3,700 a semester. 

President Trump and his surrogates have criticized higher education for indoctrinating students to hate America. 

Yet according to a 2008 survey of Georgia college students with self-reported Republican party affiliation (88.7%) were significantly more likely to rate their academic experience at a Georgia college as excellent or good than were students with Democratic party affiliation (83.5%). Only 1% of students rated their overall academic experience poor. 

With so many attacks on higher education, it is not surprising that the president has little to say about higher education on his website other than to note some reforms to the federal student loan program. (While Trump has permanently funded HBCUs, Biden wants that as well, so it is a wash.) Biden wants to do more. First, he would make good on an Obama policy proposal to provide two years of community college or other high-quality training program without debt for any student. Second, he would make public higher education tuition-free for all families with incomes below $125,000. 

Higher education may not be your top issue. I would argue education is both a civic virtue (meaning we as a society should pay for it) and a civic builder (where we learn about our history, the Constitution, and public service). Higher education is a pathway to better salaries for some and better stability for others. It is not and never should be the path for all. 

Candidates who support higher education understand the profound impact it has had and will have on our nation. 

And so, it is an important issue now for our nation. You understand the perilous moment we are in as a nation. You can see the division. You can see the threads of a social fabric fraying, threads built through fighting fascism and slavery and other evils. 

You don’t need a doctorate in political science to see that your vote, especially in a state like Georgia, matters. And it matters not merely for who you vote for, but why. 

In school, at all levels, we are taught the great deeds of great Americans. Vote for the presidential candidate who will help us continue those deeds. 

Matthew Boedy 


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