Due to the skyrocketing cost of tuition and associated expenses, students are increasingly turning to consumer credit and debt products in order to finance their education. However, education is an essential function of every society. The rapidly changing nature of the U.S. economy, advancements in manufacturing, globalization and other progress, has made post-secondary education a necessity to building a career. The knowledge, skills and information to fulfill the needs of growing industries and the careers and incomes that provide facets of stability and economic growth to communities require access to Higher Education. The institution of education is also an important part of a full functioning and equitable democracy. Investment in higher education benefits multiple parts of the economy, both in the short term surrounding institutions and long-term as people with degrees contribute their expertise and financial resources to their community. Though racial discrimination is outlawed as a policy, many people of color can’t go to college because they can’t afford it or won’t burden their families with the debt. Most who graduate, especially Black and Brown students, do so with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, shackling them to creditors for decades and limiting their career options. Corporate bad actors have capitalized on the desire for the access to this pathway to success through predatory financial products and exorbitantly priced and corporate education institutions. Higher tuitions and dwindling financial aid have dissuaded many from obtaining advanced degrees, relegating them to low-wage positions. ACRE believes that┬ácollege education should be free and that finance should be eliminated from all levels of education.

Related reports & projects:
— Read our June 2016 report: The Financialization of Higher Education