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Letters to the Editor: Much of America had near-free college until recently. We’ve changed

People in caps and gowns are silhouetted against a blue sky with an American flag flying in the distance.
Students earning degrees participate in a graduation ceremony at Pasadena City College in 2019.
(AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: I grew up very poor and entered the very highly academically rated Brooklyn College, part of the City University of New York system. In 1960 my annual tuition was $50. That’s about $450 today. Brooklyn College’s current tuition is about $7,000. (“How to fix the student debt fiasco,” editorial, May 12)

I was very successful in my career without the burden of student loan debt. If you do the research, you’ll find that state and city college tuitions across the country were relatively low and sometimes even free when I went to college. But that was when this country had different priorities and values.

I agree with your editorial that college overhead should be cut drastically and the remaining costs should be shared mostly by the state and federal governments and partially by the students. We have a physician shortage in this country. How many capable students don’t apply for medical school because they don’t want to take on the debt burden currently required?

I’m for easing the burden of student debt, but it should be based on personal income after graduation and partially paid by the state and federal governments.

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Herb Adelman, Del Mar

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To the editor: While accurately addressing the problem of the cost of higher education and degree inflation, your editorial completely misses the mark on student debt forgiveness.

Upward of 45 million Americans, from current students to senior citizens, are buried in student debt, and the government needs to put a hard reset on the value of higher education as a public good. Simply providing free community college and increased Pell Grants would not match the scope of the problem.

It is always hard to admit when we have failed, but such an admission, coupled with meaningful student debt cancellation, will be transformative to students past, present and future.

Lisa Ansell, Beverly Hills

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To the editor: Your editorial makes the point that many private employers hire only college graduates for jobs that do not require degrees, and they experience high turnover for that reason. There is another consequence to requiring an advanced college degree: It can hamper the employment prospects of individuals in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professions.

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Work in STEM requires a high degree of spatial visualization and manipulation of objects. As these skills are pushed to genius levels, verbal abilities can suffer. I know because I was the wife of a “genius"-level mathematician who barely passed English.

Requiring advanced degrees for designing motherboards inside a computer is self-defeating, because those who have the spatial visualization skills to do these designs might not have the verbal skills to advance to these higher degrees.

We are in danger of graduating engineers who are able to talk about engineering but do not have the spatial visualization skills to do the actual engineering.

Joan DaVanzo, Long Beach


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