I'll start with a complaint. Why am I making contributions to an alumni association that did not inform me of the November 21st "Occupy CUNY" march on Wall Street? I'd have been there, and so would a lot of other long-ago graduates who went to CUNY... those of us who went for FREE.
We geezers who attended the schools of the City University of New York before 1976 paid no tuition. Why, I have to wonder, was New York City able to do it then, but not now?
Well, the city has lost a hell of a lot of state aid over the years — but where did that money go? I'm still not sure. Also, I'm not sure where the federal money went, specifically, except that the later seventies were the time that tax rates on the rich began their precipitous fall.
College should be free. It's hard enough to make it out of the working class — and if you have to put yourself in ridiculously crazy debt you can't even shed in bankruptcy court to get a little bit beyond where your parents were, it may never happen. (Are there any corporate debts that can't be shed in bankruptcy? I can't think of any.)
Back in the sixties, I'm sure I could have qualified for some financial aid, and probably won a scholarship or two, but I doubt it would have been enough to get me all the way through a private college. It's certainly not enough for many students today, especially since jobs for those without college degrees are in such short supply and pay so poorly (and since full-time work and full-time school really are incompatible.)
The Occupy movement is about economic inequality — but also points out how generally screwed up our priorities have been for the past few decades. It's really time to get them straightened out.