Paying it Back in Britain

In Britain the continuing financial crisis causes the government to consider raising fees that universities charge students. Currently, British universities cannot charge students more than £3,290 a year (slightly more than $5,000) for their education.

Now this sort of plan is obviously not the recipe to get more people though college. If the country were seriously trying to get more people educated it would never consider such a nickel and diming strategy. It was for this reason that the 57 members of Parliament from the Liberal Democrat Party pledged to abolish all tuition fees last month and let students attend university for free. (They quickly gave it up. Liberal Democrat MP Vincent Cable said the pledge was “no longer feasible.”)

Note, however, that the policy has certain caveats. The proposed change will allow universities to raise fees, but not to breathtaking American levels. According to an article by D.D. Guttenplan in the New York Times:

Better known as the Browne Review after the inquiry’s chairman, John Browne, the former head of BP, the report called for the cap on tuition fees at British universities, now set at £3,290… a year, to be scrapped in favor of a free-market approach paid for by the students themselves — but only after they graduate and are earning more than £21,000 a year.

£21,000 a year. That’s about $33,000. People who earn less won’t have to pay anything back. Now $33,000 isn’t a lot of money, but at least it’s reasonable. In the United States currently most graduates are responsible for paying off loans beginning within six months of graduation, no matter how little they earn.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer