Case for Equity
The GI Bill is credited as one of the most impactful economic mobility programs in US history. The program’s focus on building the human capital of veterans contributed significantly to unprecedented growth in the American middle class in the post-World War years. The argument for the creation and expansion of free college programs relies on that experience and its example of paving the way for widespread upward mobility for millions of Americans.
Given that there exists a significant skills gap in today’s workforce and the fact that jobs increasingly require credentials beyond high school, there is a tremendous need for large-scale investment in higher education. That investment must recognize nearly a century of underfunding in low wealth K-12 schools, a practice that disadvantages millions of low-income families and families of color along with rural residents all over America. Research on free college programs has demonstrated effectiveness at increasing college-going rates for children of all races. But it has shown particularly positive impacts on children from low-income backgrounds and children of color who are less likely to have the financial means to afford college either by virtue of family savings or investments.