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Germany Abolishes College Tuition Fees, Could The US Follow Suit? German Parliament Says 'Tuition Fees Are Socially Unjust' And 'Discourage Young People From Taking Up Study' [PHOTO]

By Marisa Lewis | October 02, 2014 02:07 PM EDT

This past Wednesday, higher education in Germany became free throughout the entire country, even for international students. Much of Germany already offered free tuition, but this time Lower Saxony joined, effectively becoming the last of the seven German states to abolish tuition fees.

Dorothee Stapelfeldt, President of the Hamburg Parliament, stated, "Tuition fees are socially unjust... they particularly discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up studies," further conveying the reason behind the rule.

According to the Huffington Post Canada, Germany's movement to end tuition fees began in 2006 when state governments decided to start charging a relatively modest 1,000 euros ($1,265) a year after a constitutional court ruled fees did not violate the country's commitment to universal post-secondary education. Eventually, pressure from students, unions, and professors caused many German states to scrap tuition fees altogether.

Gabrielle Heinen-Kjajic, the minister for science and culture in Lower Saxony, stated, "We got rid of tuition fees because we do not want higher education which depends on the wealth of the parents," further explaining the German perspective.

Think Progress reports that Germany still paid very little in comparison to current American tuition fees even before their own university fees were abolished. German semester fees average around $630, and students were entitled to many free perks such as free transportation between and around cities.

American tuition fees, on the other hand, have caused significant student loan debt, which is now the second-highest form of consumer debt in the country. Think Progress reports that roughly two-thirds of American students leave university in significant debt averaging $26,600.

The US could follow in Germany's footsteps if it wanted to - by restructuring the education budget, the cost of attending public universities could be brought down to zero. Currently, the government spends around $69 billion subsidizing college education and another $107.4 billion on student loans. Tuition at all public universities comes to much less than that, around $62.6 billion in 2012.

On the other hand, learning how to speak German wouldn't be a bad idea.

Tagged :  Germany, Tuition, University, Free, Lower Saxony, Student Loans, Debt, america

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