The proposal would forgive four years of student loans for those students who choose to enter the much touted STEM sector. STEM, for those of you who don't know, stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Sounds like a good idea, right? I'd say that I hate to be the fly in the ointment, but we all know that's not true. I agree that we need to foment these types of jobs in Rhode Island, but the governor's proposal discounts the already thriving arts and entertainment sector, teachers, nurses, etc.
Generally, those who enter the STEM fields make far more when entering the workforce, which means that they are more capable of paying down the exorbitant student debt that most college graduates have accrued over the course of four, six, or eight years. What's to become of the students who follow their passion rather than the possibility of a six figure paycheck?
To the Johnson & Wales student who graduates with a culinary arts degree: "Good luck with that, kid. The state would have your back if you went into biotech."
To the RISD student who garners a degree in graphic design: "Yeah, we know you're passionate about art and design, but that choice makes you a low or spotty income earner, so tough cookies."
To the RIC teaching school grad: "We know you'll be molding the minds of future generations, and you'll probably make squat for the first ten years that you're employed, but you should have thought of that before you decide to follow your heart."
This is no different than the continued practice of offering ridiculous tax incentives to certain businesses, and not others. We will game the "free" market to benefit some, but make the lives of others considerably more difficult. Keep in mind, the proposal won't automatically forgive those college loans; A graduate can APPLY to have his or her loan forgiven. Sounds good on paper, but in practice, how many will actually be forgiven, and in what percentage?
When you draw back the curtain on this proposal, the message is clear. STEM jobs matter; everyone else can spend the majority of their adult lives paying off college loans. That's not freedom. That's indentured servitude.
The message is clear.
This guy matters.
You do not.
(Addendum: I find it deliciously ironic that, in a meme about higher education, the governor's office uses the term "graduate college." If you wanted to "graduate college", you'd be standing outside the buildings with a yard stick. If you want to graduate FROM college, you'd be on the inside of the buildings, studying and paying attention. Grammar counts.)