Programmers Guild calls for 100% tuition subsidy for U.S. Engineering and Computer Science College Students

Sacramento October 30,2006 - U.S. Representatives, such a Shadegg and Cornyn, and industry interests such as ITAA and CompeteAmerica are warning that U.S. competitiveness is being threatened by the failure of enough American students studying Engineering and Computer Science. [FN1]

A key factor in this shortage is that the American middleclass is being priced out of a college education. Increasingly students cannot obtain federal financing and resort to private loans, some with interest rates at 18%. [FN2] Many "best and brightest" young Americans are caught in a catch 22: They cannot attend college because they cannot leave their jobs, and the cost of tuition would exceed their current income.

Recently there have been demonstrations in UK over this issue, and fewer students entering college as a result of rising tuition there. [FN4]

Considering that America's economic future is at stake, the U.S. needs to implement some solutions, and quickly.

The Programmers Guild advocates that the U.S. government provide 100% subsidies of tuition and expenses for American students enrolling in degree majors for which there is a labor shortage, and is in a skill identified by industry as a threat to U.S. economic growth and competitiveness.

One potential source for this funding would be to raise the H-1B fee to $5000 per year. With roughly 500,000 H-1B workers in the U.S., this fee alone would provide $2.5 billion each year, or $20,000 each year available to 125,000 U.S. college students.

This is less than 10% of the total cost of employing an H-1B worker, and is a reasonable tax for access to the "best and brightest" workers in the world. It is well documented that U.S. employers are underpaying H-1B workers by $10 to $20 thousand per year. [FN3] So even with this fee, U.S. employers would still be getting a bargain.

The U.S. government has found $400 billion to assist the citizens of Iraq - at great cost to young Americans who could have otherwise been studying in colleges. This has reduced the number of Americans entering the engineering and computer science profession.

Furthermore this country spends roughly $30,000 per year for each incarcerated American youth. The tuition subsidy we are calling for would be a fraction of what the U.S. "invests" in criminals. Taxpayers also spend millions of dollars subsidizing the educations of citizens of other countries, often in the U.S. illegally.

Since college graduates in engineering and computer science earn top wages, they will pay more income taxes, making this a good investment for the U.S. government.

Our proposal is a win-win: The subsidy both provides both incentive and ability for Americans to study Engineering and Computer Science. This improves U.S. competitiveness and provides a stronger market for the goods and services of U.S. employers.

ABOUT US

The Programmers Guild advocates for the interests of U.S. computer programmers and other tech workers. The Guild endorses Congressman Pascrell’s H.R. 4378, which would amend H-1B legislation to require employers to first recruit U.S. workers, along with other protections. See www.programmersguild.org for more information.

Mr. Kim Berry

www.programmersguild.org
916 213-0492
kim@programmersguild.org

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REFERENCES

Footnote #1:

http://www.eetimes.com/news/semi/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=ZS2HEDWTNETWEQSNDLPSKH0CJUNN2JVN?articleID=193401576&pgno=6

"To maintain our growth and standard of living, we've got to be constantly moving to better education and high-tech jobs," says Phil Bond, president of the Information Technology Association of America.

http://www.competeamerica.org/whoweare/principles/index.html

Compete America believes it is in the United States’ economic interest to provide world-class education and job training ... ..We are concerned that American students are falling behind their international peers in math and science achievement and that too few American students are seeking degrees in science, engineering and mathematics.

http://www.competeamerica.org/economy/experts/index.html

"We stand to potentially lose the next technological giants like Yahoo! or Google if we do not keep America's workforce competitive..." - Representative John Shadegg (R-AZ), Remarks made upon introduction of the SKIL Bill (H.R. 5744) in the House, June 30, 2006

"By investing in science and technology, we can continue to revolutionize our economy." - Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Remarks made upon introduction of the SKIL Bill (S. 2691) in the Senate, May 2, 2006

""[T]here are more high-tech jobs in America today than people available to fill them. . . . if we don't do something about how to fill those high-tech jobs here, they'll go somewhere else where somebody can do the job. . . ." - President George W. Bush, Remarks at 3M Corporate Headquarters, February 2, 2006

Footnote #2:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/10/25/MNGKKLVHCK1.DTL

Like a growing number of young adults, he had to take out private loans to attend college. As the 18 percent interest rate compounded, his debt has soared to $50,000... The amount loaned to students nearly tripled between 2001 and 2006, from $6.1 billion to $17.3 billion, according to an annual student aid survey released Tuesday by the College Board. 

Footnote #3:

http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=175800119&printable=true

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2006/7/prweb407549.htm

Footnote #4:

http://business.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=1601122006

The National Union of Students (NUS) said the introduction of fees -- which mean students have to pay up to 3,000 pounds a year towards tuition costs -- had resulted in a fall in applications.

The student body wants the government to reverse its policy of making undergraduates pay the top-up fees.

Figures from the university admissions system, UCAS, showed that about 15,000 fewer students began courses this September than last year.

The 3,000-pound charge applies to students who started courses this September.

"The decision to go to university is becoming an increasingly hard one to make," said NUS National President Gemma Tumely.

"Weighing up the prospect of graduating with huge levels of debt and starting on an average salary of just 19,000 pounds is difficult. It is clear that admission for some students is proving impossible," she said in a statement.