Sunday, November 23, 2014

How to get a tuition-free college education

“The need for a college education is even more important now than it was before, but I think that the increased costs are a very severe obstacle to access. It is an American dream, and I think that one of our challenges is to find a way to make that available.” — Roy Romer, former Governor of Colorado and superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District

THIS IS the first weekend we've spend entirely at home for many months, and it's bliss. We've been either moving ourselves, moving Paul's parents, musicking or door-knocking since, it feels like, forever. At the very least, we almost always spend one night of the weekend at Mama Logli's.

Consider the last 10 days; Paul's brother and his lady-friend were in town from November 13 (which happened to be our 21st wedding anniversary; we hope to go somewhere special soon to celebrate it) through the 17th.

Thursday we had dinner with them after work at his parents' retirement village restaurant. Friday night we visited them at his parents. Saturday night we took them to the Des Moines Symphony to hear Beethoven's Fifth Symphony which, BTW, was masterfully played. We're really lucky to have such an excellent and well-supported symphony in town.

Sunday afternoon we visited again at Paul's parents, hurried to the Civic Center to tear down the symphony exhibits after the matinee concert, and then Paul had Turner Center Jazz Orchestra rehearsal until 10:30. 

Monday night Paul played his regular gig with Des Moines Big Band, and Tuesday night was TCJO rehearsal again till 10:30 at least. (He actually had Wednesday night off — a wonderment.) 

Thursday night was the TCJO concert. I decorate for it, operate the concessions (soda, wine and snacks), sell and take tickets at the door, and he sends the marketing email blasts, manages online ticket sales and plays. Whew!

There was a little party afterwards to congratulate musical director, Andy Classen for the first ever all Andy-written concert and the American debut of his original piece of music, Waveland Suite for jazz orchestra. The first movement is lushly beautiful, and I'm fond of two other pieces of his the band also played, A Count Ability and Gospel According to Patty.

Friday night Paul had another big band gig . . . and so it's pure delight to just be home together listening to Debussy's Clair de Lune, Roy Hargrove and Gregory Potter while we nest. 

Paul is actually reading a book!!! I LOVE seeing him able to just sit and read, a cat curled up between us as I write this.

In the midst of all this going and coming and coming and going, I came across this news item on several news outlets. It details how you or your child can get an entirely tuition-free college education in Germany

Yup, Germany offers American students free university tuition. 

If I worried about how to I could afford to send a child or grandchild through college, I'd give this opportunity consideration. 

And PS: sorry to say, it's just another way the United States has fallen behind Europe. Way to go Bush and cronies and the Republicans who voted for them.

Where to get a free college degree
By Lynn O'Shaughnessy
CBS MoneyWatch 
October 3, 2014

Want to attend college for free? It can happen if you learn German.

All German universities are now free to Americans and all other international students. The last German state to charge tuition at its universities struck down the fees this week.

Even before Germany abolished college tuition for all students, the price was a steal. Typically semester fees were around $630. What's more, German students receive many perks including discounts for food, clothing and events, as well as inexpensive or even free transportation.

In explaining why Germany made this move, Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a Hamburg senator, called tuition fees "unjust" and added that "they discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany."

Actually, German universities were free up until 2006 when they started charging tuition. That triggered such a crush of criticism that German states began phasing out this policy. Lower Saxony was the last holdout.

It's too bad that politicians in the U.S. don't feel that a college education is worth supporting appropriately. State aid to the nation's public universities took a nosedive during the 2008 recession and education funding remains well below those levels. The average state is spending 23 percent less per student than before the recession, according to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Actually, state support has been declining for public universities for a quarter of a century. Using an interactive tool from The Chronicle of Higher Education, you can see how state government subsidies have cratered at individual institutions.

With the average undergrad borrower now leaving school with more than $29,000 in debt, the free ride in Germany can look awfully tempting.

How to handle the language barrier

German is not an easy language to learn. Fortunately, however, there are international language programs in Germany, which have become very popular with international students before they tackle obtaining a degree in a different language.

What's more, an increasing number of German universities are offering degrees in English. These are often called international studies programs or in some other way have the word international in their title.

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