David Owen: A Solution For The Student Debt Problem


As many parents know, society and communities are facing a largely uphill battle when it comes to the costs of educating their children. As a direct result of increased lending power given to students, and federal subsidies, the cost of college education has skyrocketed in the past decade.

Furthermore, student debt has continued to rise, to the point that the average college student now leaves with nearly 36,000$ in debt.

This debt strain continues to put larger demands on parents, who are trying to find a way to pay for their child’s education, and has created youth who are unable to purchase homes, and begin the pathway to longstanding wealth, but there is a solution.

If you ask the average North Dakotan at UND, or the average parent about their senior year, you will get the same response, “it was essentially a waste of time”. With the average child having anywhere from 2-3 free periods, and having met most of their general education requirements, this is a time in which kids are allowed to relax before entering the work-force or to begin the tedious process that is college application.

Furthermore, the AP credit classes originally heralded as a solution to ever-rising student debt are both expensive and have a poor transfer rate; whether it is due to changing interests, limited availability or a universities unwillingness to have them transfer in as part of your major, these wasted credits are rarely helpful in actually eliminating time at University, clearly this system has failed the average North Dakotan, but what if we had a system that eliminated the need for the college application process, replaced the failed AP credit scheme, and provided upwards in 25,000$ in college savings.

Under the Own Your Future initiative we would provide such an opportunity to every single North Dakota high-school student. Due to the NDUS offering many 100 level classes online to college students, and there being almost no cost to an online course, except server hosting, we have both a responsibility and an obligation to our current high-school students to offer these at an affordable rate. Under my plan, each senior, and high performing junior [GPA 3. or higher] would be allowed to take up to 12 credits a semester of online NDUS courses for 30$ a credit.

These credits would be given as pass fail until 24 credits or 2 semesters of coursework had been attempted during high-school, whichever occurs first, and all credits after this point would be for letter grade. Additionally, since these credits are in the NDUS they would be able to transfer to any NDUS school. For the cost of filling up the truck once a week, these students could complete anywhere from 2 to 4 semesters of college, saving in the best case, $25,000 for those high performing juniors or $10,000 for the average senior, assuming a generous $1000 for books annually, while factoring in that 12 credits is not exactly a full semester of college.

Lastly, should a student complete a minimum of 18 credits during their high-school year tenure, with 0 fails or less than 1 fail per 7 courses attempted, they would be guaranteed admission to any NDUS school of their choosing, eliminating the costly college application process.

Some parents have expressed that this allows for continual educational stimulation during senior year, and will prevent decay in both knowledge and study habits needed for success in college, and parents also like this being allowed for high performing juniors to allow for continual challenge as opposed to taking an easy road through high-school.

The Owen For Senate campaign would also like to acknowledge the contributions of Paul Belliveau an administrator at the McLean school and former Montana teacher, and Kevin Johnson Libertarian Candidate for district 16 to the development of this plan.