An Open Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama,

I am writing this letter to you to redress a grave concern that unfortunately occupies a privileged place in my disproportionately, outrageously expensive brain. Disproportionate in regards to my fellow, cosmopolitan counterparts from Europe, who benefit from a heavily subsidized university system. Having lived in Italy for a year and a half, and poised to study next year in Berlin, these European counterparts, soon to be colleagues, have zero idea of the debilitating burden in which the majority of Americans bear upon graduating college. The sheer amount of college debt endured, suffered and accepted by American youth cannot be fathomed to those outside of the U.S. system.

As a high school degree, and the equivalents, waned in importance, more and more Americans pursued higher education with unrestricted zeal, believing that social mobility accompanied a college degree. The college degree came to be the surest path to the "American Dream" for many. As anyone with advanced or even quite simple knowledge of economics can predict that as demand goes up so too does costs. Resembling a 'roided-up baseball player, the cost of college grew exponentially, and the reigns of this exponential growth have yet to be clutched. For universities, like Highpoint in North Carolina, this meant steakhouses and swimming pools. For other schools, perhaps most notably Michigan now, this means Jim Harbaugh as coach and the chance to compete for a national championship every year. However, for the average student the consequences extend far beyond the four years of attendance. Students throughout the country have essentially mortgaged (or perhaps a better term for the current economy) bet their future in order to have the privilege of attending college and achieving the ever allusive (and illusive) American Dream. These students must endure privation, hardship and anxiety for many years in order to pay these loans back. Student loans are the only type of debt that is not forgiven through declaration of bankruptcy. If you go to school in Vegas, these loans aren't staying there.

The U.S. has spent trillions of dollars these past 12 years trying to bring our values to the Middle East. Unfortunately, these values fail to permeate our higher education system, which parasitically claims the future earnings of alumni. We subsidize massive amounts of corn to ensure high-fructose corn syrup seeps into the very fiber of the American grocery store, yet we cannot subsidize higher-education for all. Those high-quality public universities, bastions of higher-education, exist in too few states, limiting the ability of every American from going to a great, affordable school.

Mr. President, just like health care, access to high-quality universities without student loans should be a right for all Americans. We are the nation's competitive advantage; shouldn't the government be investing in us, rather than the less than efficient F35 jet? This is an open letter, nay a plea, to you, President Obama, please start investing in this nation's students. Please, I have seen this generation, lived with this generation, worked with this generation, am this generation, we won't disappoint!

Marc Barnett