Pre-paid tuition plan has many pitfalls

February 03, 1997|By JOHN C. WILKINS III

YOUR JAN. 25 editorial, "Pre-paid tuition," appears to support Maryland's adoption of a system that allows parents to pay for a child's college education during their entire childhood rather than paying for college during those valuable school years and beyond.

Your editorial does point out some of the negatives that the state must consider in order to implement the policy effectively, such as taxpayers bearing the cost of tuition should it rise above the level collected in the fund. But the editorial does not go far enough into negative effects of this policy.

Does participation of parents of a 3-year-old guarantee that child's enrollment in a certain college 15 years later? Would the student be admitted in place of a more qualified student whose parents could not afford to participate when the child was younger?

The state plans to pay a subsidy to students who choose to attend a private university, but does the individual have a right to the money paid to the fund if he chooses not to attend college? What if he wants to attend a technical school? What if he wants to use the money to start a business? Is the student forced to attend college or forfeit the money?

When you fill a college with less qualified students who are there not to learn but to not lose previously invested money, it is no longer a college. It becomes grades 13 through 16.

John C. Wilkins III

Baltimore

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