Education, far more than opposable thumbs or tool use, distinguishes us from the majority of the creatures around us. We don’t simply show our offspring what we know instinctively or learned. We teach each other and we teach the offspring of others. Not just other families, but other tribes. More importantly we use specialists. Knowledge experts, course and curriculum designers, and, most importantly, specially trained teachers.

This is how we have progressed. At least in specific knowledge and technologies if not in actual civilized behaviour. But that circumstance is for another day.

Providing quality, effective, and accessible post-secondary education should be a goal of any society and, by extension, any decent government. Here is why is should be done.


Education is a high return investment in the tax base. An educated citizen earns more, and therefore pays more in taxes. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that earnings consistently increase with the level of education. On average, workers over 25 years old with bachelor’s degrees earn an astonishing 70% more than their counterparts with high school diplomas. Education beyond a bachelor’s degree increases earnings even further. Even in a flat tax system, a 70% increase would be significant but in a progressive tax system, the increase in taxation would be in the whole multiples.

On the “cost” side of a government accounting justification, there is considerable evidence that education reduces crime.

To empirically explore the importance of the relationship between schooling and criminal participation, Lochner and Moretti use three data sources: individual-level data from the Census on incarceration, state-level data on arrests from the Uniform Crime Reports, and self-report data on crime and incarceration from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.

All three of these data sources produce similar conclusions: schooling significantly reduces criminal activity. This finding is robust to different identification strategies and measures of criminal activity. The estimated effect of schooling on imprisonment is consistent with its estimated effect on both arrests and self-reported crime.

Does Education Reduce Participation in Criminal Activities?
Enrico Moretti, Department of Economics, UC Berkeley
September, 2005

Not only does education reduce government expenses in law enforcement, it reduces the societal cost of social services, and particularly Health Care.

Adults with higher educational attainment have better health and lifespans compared to their less-educated peers. We highlight that tertiary education, particularly, is critical in influencing infant mortality, life expectancy, child vaccination, and enrollment rates. In addition, an economy needs to consider potential years of life lost (premature mortality) as a measure of health quality.

The influence of education on health: an empirical assessment of OECD countries for the period 1995–2015
Viju Raghupathi & Wullianallur Raghupathi 


My proposed method to achieve the maximum possible education for every individual citizen involves several changes in the Canadian educational landscape. The three main pillars are presented first in summary as:

  • Raise all “fees” of all post secondary institutions to reflect the real cost of the services;
  • Provide an on-request student loan program to completely cover the financial requirements of partaking in post-secondary education, including reasonable living expenses; and finally
  • Conditional forgiveness of all student loans.


Currently government provides significant funding for post-secondary institutions. Depending on the province, tuition fees vary considerably. At the same time, the institutions themselves must rely on endowments and donations as government sources are subjected to the political whims of the various parties and prevailing public attitudes. Raising tuition and other fees to completely cover the cost of operation would ensure institutional funding.

At the same time, should all citizens be granted the financial capacity to attend, the institutions would be freed to determine their unique position in the post-secondary “services” milieu. Granting the freedom of choice currently allowed only to those fortunate enough to be born into wealth to all potential students would enable institutions to ensure enrollment to capacity.

The only government intrusion into institutional affairs would be in the area of accreditation. The government(s) providing the funding via student loans would do so only for attendance at an accredited institution and program of study for which a potential student was eligible.

Student Loans

All citizens would be eligible for complete funding, including reasonable accommodation expenses, for attendance to any accredited program of study at any accredited institution. World-wide. The only criteria for funding would be citizenship and acceptance by the institution.

Tuition and all associated fees and costs, including such things as laboratory fees, books and sundry supplies would be paid directly to the institution by the funding authority. Basically a debit-card arrangement with the card working only in selected places.

Debt Forgiveness

Student debt for any given program of study would be due and payable at the termination of the course of study, successful or otherwise. Forgiveness of the debt would occur at the rate of 10% per year under the following conditions:

  • The individual remained within the jurisdiction of the lender (so in Canada); or
  • The individual was effectively employed (and taxable) within the jurisdiction although on assignment outside the jurisdiction; or
  • The individual was engaged in further study in the same field, for example enrolled in a Master or Ph.D. program in the same area of study elsewhere in the world.

As long as the individual remained eligible for forgiveness, the debt would not be recorded publicly and would have no effect on a person’s credit rating or credit-worthiness.


Time is of the essence in this program, which is essentially a contract between the citizen and the state. Debt is initiated at the commencement of a program of study and becomes “due” at the conclusion of that course of study. In the anticipated average situation, a person would begin a four-year bachelor’s program at the beginning of year 0 and finish it at the end of year 3. The ten percent increments of forgiveness would occur at the ends of years 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13.

If the person were to enter a 2-year Masters program, at the conclusion two years later, 20% of the original bachelor program debt would have been forgiven.

Non-standard Circumstance

The “standard” paths through this system are:

  • Bachelor’s program and resulting degree followed by employment;
  • Bachelor’s program followed by Master’s program followed by employment; and
  • Bachelor’s program followed by Master’s program, followed by Doctorate program followed by employment.

Alternate paths would be permitted to allow citizens the greatest flexibility and opportunity for education. There would be no penalty imposed for these. One example would be “dropping out”. The citizen leaves a program of study without completing it. The forgiveness period commences at the termination of the program of study.

A student might enroll in one program and after a time determine it is not correct for her and enter a different program of study. The forgiveness for the debt incurred during the first course of study commences at the termination of that program of study.

There may be outliers who determine that learning is all they want to do and continue to enroll in programs for their entire life. So be it.

Managing Educational Funding

Because government intervention is expensive, a primary principle of this program is minimal government intervention. So: no penalties for incomplete programs of study; no penalties for changing institutions; no penalties for spending one’s entire life “at school”.

During periods of time people are ineligible for forgiveness, they are required to repay their debts at the 10% per year rate, and they accrue interest at the prime rate at the time. Amounts due during the periods of forgiveness ineligibility become debts to the Crown and are no longer eligible for forgiveness.

So, for example, a person successfully completes a four-year program and has accumulated a debt of $200,000. That will be forgiven at the rate of $20,000 per year for the subsequent ten years. After two years, the debt is $160,000 and the individual leaves the country to work elsewhere for three years. Upon the person’s return the forgivable portion of the debt is $100,000 and there is a $60,000 debt to the crown which has been accruing interest. and continues to do so until it is repaid. The $100,000 is forgiven by 10% per year, but the “unforgivable” portion is not and will not be forgiven or forgivable.

Leave a Comment