This node is part of the 13 challenges for the 13th generation.

The high cost of attending college, combined with rising tuition levels and huge loan repayment costs, has put higher education out of reach for millions of Americans.

Given the high returns in productivity and taxes from college-educated citizens, the federal government should make college affordable for everyone.

After purchase of a home, a college education is ranked as the second largest cost in the life of an American family, and polls show that many younger Americans and their families no longer believe they can afford the cost of college.

In 1993, a commission charged with exploring new ways to finance higher education developed the STEP Plan. STEP (Student Total Education Package) is a major reform program to unify the entire federal aid system and change the way many Americans pay for college. Under the STEP plan, every student would be eligible for the average yearly cost of attending college-estimated in 1993 at $14,000. The federal government would ensure access to this amount for every student through a combination of grants, work-study, and subsidized loans, depending on the income of the student and his or her family.

STEP will cost the federal government only an additional $7 billion a year. It’s also a good investment. For every dollar of federal assistance, the U.S. government earns an average return of $4.50 in future tax receipts.

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